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AIDS. 2003 Mar 7;17(4):531-9.

Mucosal and systemic HIV-1-specific immunity in HIV-1-exposed but uninfected heterosexual men.

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Unitá Operativa Malattie Infettive, Ospedale SM Annunziata, Firenze, Milano, Italy.



Despite multiple, repeated exposures to HIV-1, some individuals never seroconvert. Mucosal and systemic immune correlates of this condition have been analysed in HIV-1-exposed women but no data are available concerning mucosal immunity and HIV-1-specific immune responses in exposed but uninfected men.


We analysed cellular and humoral immune parameters in peripheral lymphocytes, seminal fluid and urethral swabs of 14 recently HIV-1-exposed seonegative (ESN) heterosexual men, seven HIV-seropositive patients and seven healthy controls.


HIV-1-specific IgA were detected in urethral swabs of 11 out of 14 ESN and of six out of seven HIV-seropositive patients; Env- and Gag-specific IFNgamma-producing CD4 and CD8 peripheral lymphocytes were present in ESN and HIV-seropositive patients; seminal lymphocytes, but not peripheral blood lymphocytes, of ESN were enriched in activated populations (CD8CD38RO and CD4CD25). p24-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes were correlated with the percentage of CD4 in the HIV-seropositive partners. High urethral concentrations of HIV-1-specific IgA were seen in those ESN with the most recent unprotected sexual episode.


This is the first report of HIV-specific mucosal immunity in ESN men. These data add to the body of knowledge of the immune correlates present in exposed, uninfected individuals and might be important in vaccine design.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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