Author(s): Horton RE, Ball TB, Wachichi C, Jaoko W, Rutherford WJ,
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Abstract We conducted a comprehensive cross-sectional analysis of total and HIV-specific cervical antibody levels in HIV-1-resistant, uninfected, and infected women in order to examine the role of HIV-specific antibody responses in the female genital tract and examine the effect on antibody levels of various epidemiologic factors in this population. Cervical lavages were collected from 272 subjects of the Pumwani commercial sex worker cohort. Total and HIV-specific genital tract IgA and IgG levels were measured using an ELISA and correlated with behavioral and demographic factors. No significant difference was seen between cervical HIV-specific IgA levels in infected, uninfected, and resistant individuals, nor were any correlations between cervical HIV-specific IgA and neutralization capacity or viral shedding seen. We did, however, note increased HIV-specific IgA in HIV-negative women with four or more clients per day, and decreased HIV-specific IgA in both long-term nonprogressors and long-term survivors. These results show that there is not a strong cohort-wide correlation between HIV-specific cervical IgA levels and resistance to infection by HIV-1 as previously believed, but there is a correlation between exposure to HIV and HIV-specific cervical IgA. Our findings do not preclude the possibility that functional differences in the cervical IgA of HEPS women may play a role in resistance, but argue that HIV-specific responses may not be a universal protective factor. They also indicate that resistance to HIV is a complex condition related to more factors than exposure. Further studies of correlates of immune protection in these individuals would be beneficial to the field.
This article was published in AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology