Semen of HIV-1-infected individuals: Local shedding of herpesviruses and reprogrammed cytokine network

Andrea Lisco, Arshi Munawwar, Andrea Introini, Christophe Vanpouille, Elisa Saba, Xingmin Feng, Jean-Charles B. Grivel, Sarman Singh, Leonid Margolis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Semen is the main carrier of sexually transmitted viruses, including human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). However, semen is not just a mere passive transporter of virions but also plays an active role in HIV-1 transmission through cytokines and other biological factors. Methods. To study the relationship between viruses and the chemokine-cytokine network in the male genital tract, we measured the concentrations of 21 cytokines/chemokines and the loads of HIV-1 and of 6 herpesviruses in seminal and blood plasma from HIV-1-infected and HIV-uninfected men. Results. We found that (1) semen is enriched in cytokines and chemokines that play key roles in HIV-1 infection or transmission; (2) HIV-1 infection changes the chemokine-cytokine network in semen, further enriching it in cytokines that modulate its replication; (3) HIV-1 infection is associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) compartmentalized seminal reactivation; (4) CMV and EBV concomitant seminal shedding is associated with higher HIV-1 loads in blood and seminal plasma; and (5) CMV seminal reactivation increases the seminal levels of the CCR5 ligands RANTES and eotaxin, and of the CXCR3 ligand monokine induced by gamma interferon (MIG). Conclusions. HIV-1 infection results in an aberrant production of cytokines and reactivation of EBV and CMV that further changes the seminal cytokine network. The altered seminal milieu in HIV-1 infection may be a determinant of HIV-1 sexual transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-105
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Immunology and Allergy

Cite this

Lisco, A., Munawwar, A., Introini, A., Vanpouille, C., Saba, E., Feng, X., Grivel, J-C. B., Singh, S., & Margolis, L. (2012). Semen of HIV-1-infected individuals: Local shedding of herpesviruses and reprogrammed cytokine network. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 205(1), 97-105.