Objective: The expression of innate immune molecules associated with potential blocking activity of HIV-1 propagation was analyzed in the cervical tissue of a group of African HIV-1 IgG-negative commercial sex workers (CSWs) with an HIV-1-encountering risk behavior.
Methods: Cervical biopsies from the superior portion of the ectocervix were assessed for innate immune molecules and evaluated in situ by computerized image analysis at the single-cell level.
Results: A higher expression of interferon-α (IFNα) and RANTES was detected in CSWs and HIV-1-infected individuals as compared to low-risk HIV-1-uninfected controls (Neg Ctrls). Most (>90%) of RANTES-expressing cells were CD8+ cells as determined by confocal microscopy. In contrast, the expression of leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI) was comparable between the groups. The expression of β-defensin 2 was highest in HIV-1-infected individuals.
Conclusions: Induction of IFNα and RANTES expression in cervical mucosa may contribute to protection of sexual HIV-1 transmission in subjects with a higher risk behavior.