Localization of human immunodeficiency virus core antigen in term human placentas

C. F.T. Mattern, K. Murray, A. Jensen, H. Farzadegan, J. Pang, J. F. Modlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Evidence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication was sought in human placentas obtained at term from pregnancies complicated by maternal HIV infection. Placentas were obtained from the pregnancies of 19 HIV- seropositive women, 4 women who were seronegative, and 4 untested women with no risk factors for HIV infection. These placentas were each examined by immunoperoxidase immunocytochemistry using monoclonal anti-p24/55 antibodies. In addition, minced placental tissue from 11 of the seropositive pregnancies and the 3 seronegative pregnancies were cocultivated with stimulated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. The clinical status of the infants born to the HIV-seropositive women was assessed when the infants were 8 to 28 months of age. P24/55 antigen was detected in 5 of the 19 placentas of the HIV-seropositive pregnancies and in none of the 8 placentas of seronegative or low-risk pregnancies. This HIV core viral antigen was located exclusively in the cytoplasm of villous cells with morphological characteristics of macrophages. The HIV antigen-containing cells were very sparsely distributed. Staining of the trophoblast was not observed in any placental specimen. Human immunodeficiency virus was isolated in culture form 3 of the 11 placentas from seropositive pregnancies. Clinical follow-up has not revealed a relationship between infection of the infant and either p24/55 antigen identification or isolation of virus from the placenta. Virological and histological evidence of HIV replication is found in approximately one fourth of placentas obtained at term from pregnancies complicated by maternal HIV infection. Replicating virus appears localized to sparse macrophages located within the chorionic villi, but specifically not within the trophoblastic layer. It is unlikely that identification of HIV in the placenta either by culture or by immunocytochemistry will predict infection of infants born to seropositive women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-209
Number of pages3
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • human immunodeficiency virus
  • placenta
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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