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AIDS. 2016 May 15;30(8):1197-208. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000001048.

Comparison of the effect of semen from HIV-infected and uninfected men on CD4+ T-cell infection.

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aINSERM U1085-IRSET, Rennes I University, SFR Biosit, Rennes bUniversité de Toulouse, UPS, Groupe de Recherche En Fertilité Humaine (EA 3694, Human Fertility Research Group) cCECOS Midi-Pyrénées dVirology Laboratory eInfectious and Tropical Diseases Department, Universitary Hospital of Toulouse fService de Biologie de la Reproduction CECOS, Universitary Hospital of Rennes, France gInstitute of Molecular Virology, Ulm University Medical Center, Germany hDepartment of Urology, University of California at San Francisco iThe Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology, San Francisco, California, USA. *Giulia Matusali and Olivier Bourry contributed equally to the writing of this article.



Semen composition is influenced by HIV-1 infection, yet the impact of semen components on HIV infection of primary target cells has only been studied in samples from HIV-uninfected donors.


We compared the effect of seminal plasma (SP) from chronically HIV-infected (SP+) versus uninfected donors (SP-) on HIV-1 infection of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and CD4 T cells.


Primary cells were infected with HIV-1 in the presence of SP+ or SP- and analyzed for infection level, metabolic activity, HIV receptor expression, proliferation and activation. SP+ and SP- were compared for infection-enhancing peptides, cytokines and prostaglandin E2 levels.


SP- efficiently enhanced HIV-1 R5 infection of CD4 T cells, whereas SP+ enhancing activity was significantly reduced. RANTES (CCL5) concentrations were elevated in SP+ relative to SP-, whereas the concentrations of infectivity-enhancing peptides [semen-derived enhancer of viral infection (SEVI), SEM1, SEM2] were similar. CCR5 membrane expression levels were reduced on CD4 T cells shortly postexposure to SP+ compared with SP- and correlated to R5-tropic HIV-1 infection levels, and CCR5 ligands' concentrations in semen. SP+ and SP- displayed similar enhancing activity on PBMC infection by X4-tropic HIV-1. Addition/depletion of RANTES (regulated on activation, normal T-cell expressed and secreted) from SPs modulated their effect on PBMC infection by R5-tropic HIV-1.


Semen from HIV-infected donors exhibits a significantly reduced enhancing potential on CD4 T-cell infection by R5-tropic HIV-1 when compared with semen from uninfected donors. Our data indicate that elevated seminal concentrations of RANTES in HIV-infected men can influence the ability of semen to enhance infection.

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