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J Virol. 2012 Jul;86(13):7098-106. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00410-12. Epub 2012 Apr 24.

Antiviral antibodies and T cells are present in the foreskin of simian immunodeficiency virus-infected rhesus macaques.

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Center for Comparative Medicine, University of California, Davis, California, USA.


No information exists regarding immune responses to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in the foreskin or glans of the human penis, although this is a key tissue for HIV transmission. To address this gap, we characterized antiviral immune responses in foreskin of male rhesus macaques (RMs) inoculated with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) strain SIVmac251 by penile foreskin exposure. We found a complete population of immune cells in the foreskin and glans of normal RMs, although B cells were less common than CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells. IgG-secreting cells were detected by enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay in cell suspensions made from the foreskin. In the foreskin and glans of SIV-infected RMs, although B cells were less common than CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells, SIV-specific IgG antibody was present in foreskin secretions. In addition, cytokine-secreting SIV-specific CD8(+) T cells were readily found in cell suspensions made from the foreskin. Although potential HIV target cells were found in and under the epithelium covering all penile surfaces, the presence of antiviral effector B and T cells in the foreskin suggests that vaccines may be able to elicit immunity in this critical site to protect men from acquiring HIV.

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