HIV-1 Vaginal Transmission: Cell-Free or Cell-Associated Virus?
Article first published online: 15 APR 2014
Published 2014. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.
American Journal of Reproductive Immunology
Special Issue: Sex Hormones and HIV Transmission
Volume 71, Issue 6, pages 589–599, June 2014
How to Cite
HIV-1 vaginal transmission: cell-free or cell-associated virus? Am J Reprod Immunol 2014; 71: 589–599, , , .
- Issue published online: 16 MAY 2014
- Article first published online: 15 APR 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 25 FEB 2014
- Manuscript Received: 2 FEB 2014
- Brazilian Ministry of Education/CAPES
- Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology/CNPq
The vast majority of new HIV infections in male-to-female transmission occurs through semen, where HIV-1 is present in two different forms: as free and as cell-associated virus. In the female lower genital tract, semen mixes with female genital secretions that contain various factors, some of which facilitate or inhibit HIV-1 transmission. Next, HIV-1 crosses the genital epithelia, reaches the regional lymph nodes, and disseminates through the female host. Cervico-vaginal mucosa contains multiple barriers, resulting in a low probability of vaginal transmission. However, in some cases, HIV-1 is able to break these barriers. Although the exact mechanisms of how these barriers function remain unclear, their levels of efficiency against cell-free and cell-associated HIV-1 are different, and both cell-free and cell-associated virions seem to use different strategies to overcome these barriers. Understanding the basic mechanisms of HIV-1 vaginal transmission is required for the development of new antiviral strategies to contain HIV-1 epidemics.