Genital herpes is the most prevalent viral sexually transmitted infection worldwide and is mainly caused by HSV type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-2 infection enhances HIV-1 susceptibility, even in the absence of clinical symptoms. In this study, we investigated the effect of HSV-2 on HIV-1 transmission by mucosal Langerhans cells (LCs). LCs are important in heterosexual transmission because they form a barrier against HIV-1 infection; LCs efficiently capture and degrade HIV-1 through the C-type lectin langerin, thereby preventing HIV-1 transmission. Notably, our data showed that HSV-2 enhanced HIV-1 infection of LCs and subsequent HIV-1 transmission to T cells. HSV-2 interfered with HIV-1 capture by langerin, which allowed efficient HIV-1 infection of LCs. HSV-2 inhibited the antiviral function of langerin at two levels; HSV-2 decreased langerin expression and competed with HIV-1 for langerin binding. HSV-2 replication was not required, because both UV-inactivated HSV-2 and TLR-3 agonist polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid similarly increased HIV-1 transmission by LCs. Therefore, we identified a mechanism by which HSV-2 enhances HIV-1 susceptibility, even in the absence of clinical symptoms. Our data demonstrated that viral coinfections, such as HSV-2, breach the protective function of LCs by abrogating langerin function, which increases HIV-1 susceptibility. These data reinforce the importance of preventing sexually transmitted infections, such as HSV-2, to reduce the transmission of HIV-1. Copyright,
Journal of Immunology
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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

de Jong, M.A.W.P, de Witte, L, Taylor, M.E, & Geijtenbeek, T.B.H. (2010). Herpes simplex virus type 2 enhances HIV-1 susceptibility by affecting langerhans cell function. Journal of Immunology, 185(3), 1633–1641. doi:10.4049/jimmunol.0904137