The increase in the number of human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1)-infected children is a direct consequence of the heterosexual spread of the disease to women and the growing number of HIV-positive i.v. drug users. It is not known how the majority of infants born to HIV-1-infected women escape HIV-1 infection, and, for those infected, the timing of HIV-1 transmission has yet to be determined. In addition, the role of maternal antibodies in the prevention of HIV-1 transmission to the fetus is unclear. We have previously demonstrated a correlation between vertical transmission and the absence of high-affinity/avidity antibodies to a peptide, KRI-HIGPGRAFYT, which corresponds to a region of the primary neutralizing domain of the gpl20 V3 loop of HIVMN (MN-PND). The present study examines the correlation between the presence of these high affinity antibodies in women completing a pregnancy or undergoing an elective abortion and the detection of HIV-1 infection in their aborted fetuses. In several instances, transmission occurred despite high-affinity antibodies to the MN-PND. We have, therefore, evaluated the reactivity of sera to different MN-PND variants. In one infant born to a mother with high-affinity/avidity antibodies to KRI-HIGPGRAFYT (classic MN-PND), the infected baby developed antibodies to an MN-PND variant peptide against which his mother did not mount a humoral immune response during pregnancy. This finding indicates that fetal infection with MN-PND escape mutants arising during pregnancy may occur during a period when the mother is serologically negative.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health