Detection of HIV-1 proviral DNA in sperm from HIV-1-infected men

Omar Bagasra, Homayoon Farzadegan, Thikkavarapu Seshamma, Joseph W. Oakes, Alfred Saah, Roger J. Pomerantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Sexual transmission is a major mode of the spread of HIV-1, although the cellular and molecular mechanisms are poorly defined. In this study, we sought to assess the cellular reservoirs of HIV-1 proviral DNA in the semen of HIV-1-infected men. Design and methods: An in situ polymerase chain reaction (IS-PCR), which amplifies specific genes within intact cells, was used to evaluate levels of HIV-1 provirus in seminal cells from HIV-1-infected men in various stages of clinical disease. Results: Initial studies demonstated HIV-1 provirus in relatively low numbers (1:100 to 1:6000) of both the seminal mononuclear cells and sperm from certain HIV-1-infected men. To extend these findings, 94 seminal samples from HIV-1-infected men were evaluated. HIV-1 proviral DNA was detected in seminal cells of a significant percentage of HIV-1-infected men (45%) at all stages of clinical immunodeficiency. Both seminal mononuclear cells and sperm (35 and 33% of samples studied, respectively) harbored HIV-1 proviral sequences. HIV-1-harboring sperm are shown to stain positively for HIV-1 in the mid-pieces of these cells, with rarer staining of the sperm heads. Conclusions: HIV-1 proviral DNA can be demonstrated by IS-PCR in seminal mononuclear cells and sperm from certain HIV-1-infected men. The role played by proviral DNA in these cells in the sexual transmission of this retroviral agent will require further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1669-1674
Number of pages6
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1994


  • HIV-1
  • Provirus
  • Semen
  • Sperm
  • Transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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