Infection with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) increases the risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) are recruited into the genital tract by STD pathogens, such as Chlamydia trachomatis. Semen of HIV-infected men contains HIV associated with mononuclear cells. This study investigated the interaction among PMNs from HIV-uninfected persons, C. trachomatis, and HIV-infected cells and examined the mechanisms for enhanced HIV replication. We demonstrated that PMNs from HIV-seronegative donors induced HIV replication in mononuclear cells from 17 HIV-infected patients in medium without exogenous IL-2. HIV in the cell-free supernatants from cocultures of PMNs and patients' peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) was replication competent, as indicated by their capacity to propagate HIV in a second round of culture using PBMCs from HIV-seronegative individuals and by the fact that proviral DNA was found in these cells. PMNs from HIV-seronegative donors increased HIV replication over 100-fold in chronically HIV-infected cell lines of the monocytic, T, and B cell lineages. Moreover, PMNs increased U1 cells' production of p24 antigen by as much as ninefold when compared with U1 cells cocultured with PBMCs. The addition of C. trachomatis to PMN and U1 coculture increased HIV replication by an additional ninefold at 24 h, whereas C. trachomatis alone had no effect on p24 antigen production by U1 cells. Thus, C. trachomatis serves not only to recruit PMNs, but also to interact with PMNs to increase HIV replication. HIV replication is triggered by contact of HIV-infected cells with PMNs, by the generation of reactive oxygen intermediates (ROIs), and by soluble factors such as TNF-alpha and IL-6. This is based on the findings that production of p24 antigen, IL-6, and TNF-alpha induced by PMNs is abrogated by disrupting or partitioning PMNs from HIV-infected cells; is inhibited by superoxide dismutase and catalase, enzymes that destroy ROIs; is enhanced by differentiated HL60 cells capable of producing ROIs; and is induced by PMNs tested negative for CMV. Furthermore, the production of ROIs is independent of HIV infection of mononuclear cells, since PMNs cocultured with HIV-uninfected parental monocytic and T cell lines generated ROIs. Therefore, the increased risk for acquiring HIV infection associated with chlamydia cervicitis may be related to the local recruitment of PMNs by C. trachomatis and the induction of infectious virus from mononuclear cells present in semen. These observations provide a rationale for strategies to reduce HIV transmission by control of STD.

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