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J Immunol. 2002 Sep 15;169(6):3301-6.

Opsonization of HIV-1 by semen complement enhances infection of human epithelial cells.

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  • 1Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Unité 430, and Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France.


In the present study we demonstrate that both X4- and R5-tropic HIV-1 strains are able to infect the human epithelial cell line HT-29. Infection was enhanced 2-fold when HIV was added to semen before contact with the cell cultures. The enhancing effect of semen was complement dependent, as evidenced by blockage of generation of C3a/C3a(desArg) in semen by heat or EDTA treatment of semen and suppression of semen-dependent enhancement with mAbs directed to complement receptor type 3 (CD11b/CD18) and soluble CD16. Infection of HT-29 cells was assessed by the release of p24 Ag in cultures and semiquantitative PCR of the HIV-1 pol gene. Inhibition of infection of HT-29 by stromal cell-derived factor 1 was decreased in the case of semen-opsonized X4- and R5-tropic virus compared with unopsonized virus. In contrast, inhibition of infection by RANTES was increased for opsonized X4-tropic HIV-1 compared with unopsonized virus. Taken together these observations indicate that activation of complement in semen may play an enhancing role in mucosal transmission of HIV-1 by facilitating infection of epithelial cells and/or enhancing infection of complement receptor-expressing target cells in the mucosa.

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