In vitro synthesis of human immunodeficiency virus-specific antibodies in peripheral blood lymphocytes of infants

S. Pahwa, N. Chirmule, C. Leombruno, W. Lim, R. Harper, R. Bhalla, R. Pahwa, R. P. Nelson, R. A. Good

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An assay system was developed for the analysis of antibodies secreted in vitro against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) by cultured peripheral blood lymphocytes of HIV-infected individuals. Cultures of peripheral blood lymphocytes were established with medium alone or with medium containing Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) or pokeweed mitogen. HIV antibodies were determined by an ELISA performed with commercial kits in which a whole virus extract served as antigen. Optimal antibody secretion was detected in 7-day peripheral blood lymphocyte cultures to which EBV had been added to provide polyclonal B-cell activation. Pokeweed mitogen-induced antibody secretion and spontaneous antibody secretion were less consistent. With EBV as a stimulus, the sensitivity and specificity of this assay for determining HIV infection status were each 100 in adults. When the assay was applied to infants and children, 23 of 24 symptomatic HIV-seropositive children (class P-2) and 11 of 33 asymptomatic seropositive infants aged ≤ 15 months (class P-0) tested positive for EBV-induced antibody secretion. Six of the 11 P-0 patients who tested positive have progressed to develop symptomatic disease, while the remainder are still seropositive at ages 2-15 months. Of the infants who were negative in this assay, all have remained asymptomatic. Treatment with 3'-azido-3'-deoxythymidine in infected adults and children has resulted in transient suppression of the in vivo antibody response in some instances. Thus EBV-induced synthesis of HIV-specific antibodies in vitro is a sensitive and specific indicator of HIV infection and is of help in determining infection status of asymptomatic seropositive infants who are classified as having 'indeterminate' infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7532-7536
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes

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