Exploring why some HIV-positive mothers transmit the virus in utero to their babies while others don't, researchers from the UCLA AIDS Institute and Los Alamos National Laboratory studied 38 infant-mother pairs in the UCLA arm of the Los Angeles Pediatric AIDS Consortium. They studied the role of maternal autologous neutralizing antibody (aNAB) in selective transmission of HIV-1. All of the deliveries during the study period, which lasted from 1989 to 1996, occurred before zidovudine (ZDV) prophylaxis was routinely used to prevent perinatal transmission of HIV-1. Researchers found that women who transmitted the virus to their offspring were significantly less likely to have aNAB, which neutralizes the virus, than non-transmitting mothers (14.3 percent, compared with 76.5 percent). This suggests that the antibody has a potent protective or selective effect in perinatal HIV transmission. This study also found that the closest match to the transmitted virus to the baby was the mother's neutralization-escape virus.
Further research into the protective role of the neutralizing antibody in HIV-1 could provide hope for developing an effective vaccine and passive antibody approaches in combating HIV-1.
Ruth Dickover, Eileen Garratty and Yvonne Bryson of the department of pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; and Karina Yusim, Catherine Miller and Bette Korber of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
The study appears in the July issue of the Journal of Virology (Volume 80, No. 13).
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Universitywide AIDS Research Program Grants, the UCLA Clinical Research Center and the Pediatric AIDS Foundation.