• Cytokines;
  • HIV-1;
  • Network;
  • Semen


Although it is established that the levels of individual cytokines are altered by HIV-1 infection, the changes in cytokine interrelations that organize them into networks have been poorly studied. Here, we evaluated these networks in HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected individuals in fluid compartments that are critical for HIV-1 pathogenesis and transmission, namely blood and semen.

Method of Study

In samples collected from therapy-naïve HIV-1-infected and HIV-1-uninfected individuals, we measured HIV-1-load, CD4 cell count, and levels of 21 cytokines using a multiplex bead assay.


Cytokine networks in blood and semen were different for HIV-1-infected and HIV-1-uninfected individuals. In both compartments of HIV-1-infected individuals, the cytokine networks were more interlocked than in controls: HIV-1 infection resulted in the establishment of new correlations and in the strengthening of pre-existing correlations between different cytokines. In blood and semen of HIV-infected patients, there were, respectively, 68 and 72 statistically significant correlations between cytokines, while in uninfected individuals, there were 18 and 21 such correlations.


HIV-1 infection reorganizes the cytokine networks, establishing new strong correlations between various cytokines and thus imposes a high rigidity on the cytokine network. This rigidity may reflect the impairment of the ability of the immune system to respond to microbial challenges.