HIV-Specific Antibodies But Not T-Cell Responses Are Associated With Protection in Seronegative Partners of HIV-1-Infected Individuals in Cambodia

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Summary:To study biological factors related to protection against HIV-1 infection in Cambodia, we recruited 48 partners of HIV-1-infected patients who remained uninfected (exposed uninfected individuals, EUs) despite unprotected sexual intercourse for more than 1 year and 49 unexposed controls (UCs). HIV-1-specific antibodies (IgA anti-gp41 and IgG anti-CD4-gp120 complex), T-cell responses, and cellular factors that may be involved in protection (peripheral blood mononuclear cell [PBMC] resistance to HIV-1 infection and β-chemokine production) were evaluated. Anti-HIV-1 antibodies were higher in EUs than those in UCs (P = 0.01 and P = 0.04 for anti-gp41 and anti-CD4-gp120, respectively). We observed a decreased susceptibility to a primary Cambodian isolate, HIV-1KH019, in EU PBMCs as compared with UC PBMCs (P = 0.03). A weak T-cell response to one pool of HIV-1 Gag peptides was found by ELISpot in 1 of 19 EUs. Whereas T-cell specific immunity was not associated to protection, our results suggest that HIV-specific humoral immunity and reduced cell susceptibility to infection may contribute to protection against HIV-1 infection in Cambodian EUs.

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