Antibody-secreting B cells in HIV infection

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Purpose of reviewSeveral recent advances are permitting a detailed examination of the HIV-specific B-cell response. In this review, we summarize these advances and their implications for understanding the response to HIV during chronic infection or in vaccine.Recent findingsIn HIV-infected patients, aberrant B-cell phenotypes have been associated with diminished humoral responses to other pathogens. HIV-specific B cells are overrepresented in some of these abnormal subsets. Over the past 2 years, flow cytometry-based techniques have been developed to stain HIV-specific B cells. These techniques are permitting a re-examination of frequency, phenotype, and function of HIV-specific B cells. They are also permitting the isolation of HIV-specific B cells in high purity. Immunoglobulin G from sorted HIV-specific B cells is oligoclonal, uses a limited repertoire of immunoglobulin genes, and targets multiple epitopes on Env.SummaryIt is likely that the defects found in total B cells in HIV-infected patients also play a role in the poorly effective HIV-specific antibody response. A subset of HIV-infected patients produced broadly neutralizing antibodies. Understanding this antibody response, and the B cells that underlie it, may be critical in efforts to elicit neutralizing antibodies against HIV.

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