Schistosoma mansoni treatment reduces HIV entry into cervical CD4+ T cells and induces IFN-I pathways
Schistosoma mansoni (Sm) infection has been linked with an increased risk of HIV acquisition in women. Therefore, defining the mechanism(s) by which Sm alters HIV susceptibility might lead to new HIV prevention strategies. Here, we analyze the impact of standard Sm therapy in HIV-uninfected Sm+ Ugandan adult women on genital HIV susceptibility and mucosal and systemic immunology. Schistosomiasis treatment induces a profound reduction of HIV entry into cervical and blood CD4+ T cells that is sustained for up to two months, despite transient systemic and mucosal immune activation and elevated genital IL-1α levels. Genital IFN-α2a levels are also elevated post-treatment, and IFN-α2a blocks HIV entry into primary CD4+ T cells ex vivo. Transcriptomic analysis of blood mononuclear cells post-Sm treatment shows IFN-I pathway up-regulation and partial reversal of Sm-dysregulated interferon signaling. These findings indicate that Sm therapy may reduce HIV susceptibility for women with Sm infection, potentially through de-repression of IFN-I pathways.