Lack of Association Between Anti-V3 Loop Antibody and Perinatal HIV-1 Transmission in Kinshasa, Zaire, Despite Use of Assays Based on Local HIV-1 Strains

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Maternal antibodies against the V3 loop principal neutralizing domain (PND) have been reported to protect against perinatal HIV-1 transmission. To study this association in an African city with a long-standing HIV epidemic and no established “consensus sequence” for the V3 loop region of gp120, we determined the DNA sequence for the V3 region of HIV-1 from 13 HIV-1-infected residents of Kinshasa, Zaire, and developed peptide enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) reflecting the V3 loop PND for those HIV-1 strains. Using the most broadly reactive locally derived V3 loop peptide in a limited-antigen EIA, there was no significant difference in the perinatal HIV-1 transmission risk between 64 women with anti-V3 loop antibody (transmission risk, 30%) and 104 women without anti-V3 loop antibody (transmission risk, 25%; p = 0.5); this finding was unchanged after we controlled for maternal AIDS and low birth weight. Although we used assays for V3 loop antibody based on local HIV-1 strains and evaluated a large number of mother-child pairs, we found no evidence that maternal anti-V3 loop PND antibody protects against perinatal HIV-1 transmission.

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