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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases