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Keywords:

  • Human immunodeficiency virus;
  • mannose receptor;
  • spermatozoa

In this opinion article we consider the possibility that human spermatozoa have receptors for human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1). It is clear that sperm cells have the potential for transmitting HIV-1, but the mechanisms responsible for spreading or the virus by this vector are not known. In contrast to the traditional HIV-1 target cells, spermatozoa do not express CD4 receptors or the CCR5/CXCR4 co-receptors. Recent evidence indicates that astrocytes, which also do not express these molecules, can be infected with HIV-1 through the mannose receptor. Furthermore, a 160-kDa sperm receptor that interacts with the HIV gp 120 has been described. Therefore, we hypothesize that the mannose receptor, of 165–175 kDa, is the receptor that HIV-1 uses to invade spermatozoa, which could lead to both vertical and horizontal transmission of HIV-1.