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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2002 Nov 20;18(17):1271-80.

Subcompartmentalization of HIV-1 quasispecies between seminal cells and seminal plasma indicates their origin in distinct genital tissues.

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Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA.


The mononuclear cells and plasma components of semen from HIV-infected subjects have been shown to contain HIV-1. However, there is very little information as to whether distinct HIV-1 population are present in these two seminal compartments or as to their tissue of origin. Phylogenetic analysis of nucleotide sequences of the C2-V5 region of the HIV-1 gp120 from HIV-1 RNA isolated from seminal cells and seminal plasma of five subjects indicates that the HIV-1 population derived from seminal plasma was distinct from that present in seminal cells. Such subcompartmentalization of HIV-1 between seminal cells and seminal plasma was detected as early as 3 months after seroconversion and persisted up to 38 months following seroconversion. Furthermore, comparison of HIV-1 sequences between testis and prostate tissues showed distinct HIV-1 populations in these tissue compartments. In situ real-time (Taqman) PCR analysis of prostate and testis tissues indicated that T lymphocytes were the predominant cells infected with HIV-1 in both of these tissues. Since seminal plasma is derived from prostate and most of the seminal cells originate from the rete testis and epididymis, these results are consistent with the idea that HIV-1 in seminal plasma is derived from the prostate, while HIV-1-infected cells in semen originate mostly from the rete testis and epididymis. These findings provide for the first time evidence of subcompartmentalization of HIV-1 in male genital organs and suggest that intervention strategies such as vasectomy may not prevent sexual transmission.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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