Role of Semen in HIV-1 Transmission: Inhibitor or facilitator?
Article first published online: 19 NOV 2010
© 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S
American Journal of Reproductive Immunology
Special Issue: Sexual Transmission of HIV in the 21st Century
Volume 65, Issue 3, pages 292–301, March 2011
How to Cite
Doncel, G. F., Joseph, T. and Thurman, A. R. (2011), Role of Semen in HIV-1 Transmission: Inhibitor or facilitator?. American Journal of Reproductive Immunology, 65: 292–301. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0897.2010.00931.x
- Issue published online: 7 FEB 2011
- Article first published online: 19 NOV 2010
- Submitted October 14, 2010; accepted October 18, 2010.
- HIV transmission;
- mucosal immunity;
- vaginal cells
Citation Doncel GF, Joseph T, Thurman AR. Role of semen in HIV-1 transmission: inhibitor or facilitator? Am J Reprod Immunol 2011; 65: 292–301
Sexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) accounts for 60-90% of new infections, especially in developing countries. During male-to-female transmission, the virus is typically deposited in the vagina as cell-free and cell-associated virions carried by semen. But semen is more than just a carrier for HIV-1. Evidence from in vitro and in vivo studies supports both inhibitory and enhancing effects. Intrinsic antiviral activity mediated by cationic antimicrobial peptides, cytotoxicity, and blockage of HIV–dendritic cell interactions are seminal plasma properties that inhibit HIV-1 infection. On the contrary, neutralization of vaginal acidic pH, enhanced virus–target cell attachment by seminal amyloid fibrils, opsonization by complement fragments, and electrostatic interactions are factors that facilitate HIV-1 infection. The end result, i.e., inhibition or enhancement of HIV mucosal infection, in vivo, likely depends on the summation of all these biological effects. More research is needed, especially in animal models, to dissect the role of these factors and establish their relevance in HIV-1 transmission.