Clinical and mucosal immune correlates of HIV-1 semen levels in antiretroviral-naive men

Brendan J.W. Osborne, Angie K. Marsh, Sanja Huibner, Kamnoosh Shahabi, Cindy Liu, Tania Contente, Nico J.D. Nagelkerke, Colin Kovacs, Erika Benko, Lance Price, Kelly S. MacDonald, Rupert Kaul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background. This study was done to characterize parameters associated with semen human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 ribonucleic acid (RNA) viral load (VL) variability in HIV-infected, therapy-naive men. Methods. Paired blood and semen samples were collected from 30 HIV-infected, therapy-naive men who have sex with men, and 13 participants were observed longitudinally for up to 1 year. Human immunodeficiency virus RNA, bacterial load by 16S RNA, herpesvirus (Epstein-Barr virus and cytomegalovirus [CMV]) shedding, and semen cytokines/chemokines were quantified, and semen T-cell subsets were assessed by multiparameter flow cytometry. Results. Semen HIV RNA was detected at 93% of visits, with > 50% of men shedding high levels of virus (defined as > 5000 copies/mL). In the baseline cross-sectional analysis, an increased semen HIV VL correlated with local CMV reactivation, the semen bacterial load, and semen inflammatory cytokines, particularly interleukin (IL)-8. T cells in semen were more activated than blood, and there was an increased frequency of Th17 cells and γδ-T-cells. Subsequent prospective analysis demonstrated striking interindividual variability in HIV and CMV shedding patterns, and only semen IL-8 levels and the blood VL were independently associated with semen HIV levels. Conclusions. Several clinical and immune parameters were associated with increased HIV semen levels in antiretroviral therapy- naive men, with induction of local proinflammatory cytokines potentially acting as a common pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberofx033
JournalOpen Forum Infectious Diseases
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytokines
  • HIV
  • Herpesviruses
  • Microbiome
  • Semen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Infectious Diseases


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