A distinct cytokine and chemokine profile at the genital mucosa is associated with HIV-1 protection among HIV-exposed seronegative commercial sex workers

Mucosal Immunol. 2012 May;5(3):277-87. doi: 10.1038/mi.2012.7. Epub 2012 Feb 8.


The predominance of HIV-1 sexual transmission requires a greater understanding of the interaction between HIV-1 and the mucosal immune system. The study of HIV-1-exposed seronegative (HESN) individuals serves as a model to identify the correlates of protection and to aid in microbicide development. A total of 22 cytokines/chemokines were analyzed at the systemic and mucosal compartments in 57 HESN, 51 HIV-1-negative, and 67 HIV-1-infected commercial sex workers from Nairobi, Kenya. HESN individuals had significantly lower expression of monokine induced by interferon-γ (MIG), interferon-γ-induced protein 10 (IP-10), and interleukin-1α (IL-1α) in their genital mucosa compared with controls. HESN cytokine expression also distinctly correlates with mucosal antiproteases, suggesting that HESN individuals have a unique pattern of mucosal chemokine/cytokine expression, which may result in reduced trafficking at the mucosa. These data support the immune quiescence model of protection, whereby lower T-cell activation/recruitment at the mucosal compartment reduces HIV-1 target cell numbers and is an important component of natural protection from HIV-1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokine CXCL10 / genetics
  • Chemokine CXCL10 / metabolism
  • Chemokine CXCL9 / genetics
  • Chemokine CXCL9 / metabolism
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Genitalia / immunology*
  • Genitalia / virology
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV Seronegativity*
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal
  • Interleukin-1alpha / genetics
  • Interleukin-1alpha / metabolism
  • Kenya
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Workers*


  • CXCL9 protein, human
  • Chemokine CXCL10
  • Chemokine CXCL9
  • IL1A protein, human
  • Interleukin-1alpha