Humoral responses against HIV in male genital tract: role in sexual transmission and perspectives for preventive strategies

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Abstract

Most new HIV infections occur via sexual routes. The induction of protective anti-HIV antibodies in genital mucosa is an important step toward reducing HIV transmission. Mucosal anti-HIV antibodies may play a dual role by either protecting against HIV transmission or facilitating it. Protective properties against HIV of mucosal IgGs and IgAs exhibiting neutralizing or antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity activities have been described in highly exposed seronegative individuals. Conversely, some IgGs may facilitate the crossing of HIV free-particles through epithelial barriers by transcytosis. Hence knowledge of the mechanisms underlying anti-HIV antibody production in the genital tract and their exact role in sexual transmission may help to develop appropriate preventive strategies based on passive immunization or mucosal vaccination approaches. Our review focuses on the characteristics of the humoral immune responses against HIV in the male genital tract and related prevention strategies.

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