The association between antibody reactivity to the neutralizing epitope ELDKWA in the transmembrane glycoprotein gp41 and disease progression was investigated in 29 children perinatally infected with HIV-1. Levels of antibody reactivity to this epitope, measured over time, were associated with absolute CD4+ lymphocyte numbers and disease status, and inversely associated with the levels of acid-dissociated p24 antigen in the plasma. Early virus isolates from 10 of 12 children with no detectable antibody reactivity to this epitope were sequenced. Only three contained sequences that differed from the consensus, indicating that this epitope is well conserved in this population. None of these three children developed antibodies to the autologous sequences, indicating that at least 80% of children with negative antibody reactivity to this epitope were true nonresponders. Together, these results indicate that the ELDKWA determinant could be an important component in the formulation of a vaccine or for immunotherapeutic approaches to HIV-1 infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases