Background: The high prevalence of HIV-1/AIDS in areas endemic for schistosomiasis and other helminthic infections has led to the hypothesis that parasites increase host susceptibility to immunodeficiency virus infection. We previously showed that rhesus macaques (RM) with active schistosomiasis were significantly more likely to become systemically infected after intrarectal (i.r.) exposure to an R5-tropic clade C simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV-C) than were parasite-free controls. However, we could not address whether this was due to systemic or mucosal effects. If systemic immunoactivation resulted in increased susceptibility to SHIV-C acquisition, a similarly large difference in host susceptibility would be seen after intravenous (i.v.) SHIV-C challenge. Conversely, if increased host susceptibility was due to parasite-induced immunoactivation at the mucosal level, i.v. SHIV-C challenge would not result in significant differences between parasitized and parasite-free monkeys. Methods and Findings: We enrolled two groups of RM and infected one group with Schistosoma mansoni; the other group was left parasite-free. Both groups were challenged i.v. with decreasing doses of SHIV-C. No statistically significant differences in 50% animal infectious doses (AID50) or peak viremia were seen between the two groups. These data strongly contrast the earlier i.r. SHIV-C challenge (using the same virus stock) in the presence/absence of parasites, where we noted a 17-fold difference in AID50 and one log higher peak viremia in parasitized monkeys (P<0.001 for both). The lack of significant differences after the i.v. challenge implies that the increased host susceptibility is predominantly due to parasite-mediated mucosal upregulation of virus replication and spread, rather than systemic effects. Conclusions: The major impact of schistosome-induced increased host susceptibility is at the mucosal level. Given that >90% of all new HIV-1 infections worldwide are acquired through mucosal contact, parasitic infections that inflame mucosae may play an important role in the spread of HIV-1.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases