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Nat Med. 1995 Jan;1(1):59-64.

HIV-specific cytotoxic T-cells in HIV-exposed but uninfected Gambian women.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Medicine, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington, Oxford, UK.

Erratum in

  • Nat Med 1995 Jun;1(6):598.

Abstract

A crucial requirement in the rational design of a prophylactic vaccine against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is to establish whether or not protective immunity can occur following natural infection. The immune response to HIV infection is characterized by very vigorous HIV-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) activity. We have identified four HIV-1 and HIV-2 cross-reactive peptide epitopes, presented to CTL from HIV-infected Gambians by HLA-B35 (the most common Gambian class I HLA molecule). These peptides were used to elicit HIV-specific CTLs from three out of six repeatedly exposed but HIV-seronegative female prostitutes with HLA-B35. These women remain seronegative with no evidence of HIV infection by polymerase chain reaction or viral culture. Their CTL activity may represent protective immunity against HIV infection.

PIP:

A crucial requirement in the rational design of a prophylactic vaccine against HIV is to establish whether or not protective immunity can occur following natural infection. The immune response to HIV infection is characterized by very vigorous HIV-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) activity. Four HIV-1 and HIV-2 cross-reactive peptide epitopes were identified, presented to CTL from HIV-infected Gambian women by HLA-B35 (the most common Gambian class 1 HLA molecule). The study population consisted of 20 women: 14 had been prostitutes for more than 5 years and reported little condom usage and 6 were long-term sexual partners of HIV-infected men. Peptide-stimulated cultures were also set up from 8 known seropositive donors with HLA-B35 or B53, and from a control group of volunteers at low-risk of HIV infection with HLA-B35 (12 Gambian and 7 European) and 2 Gambians with HLA-B53. Specific CTL activity against one or more peptides was repeatedly detected after 10-14 days in the peptide-stimulated cultures from 3 of the 6 high-risk seronegative women with HLA-B35, but not in their three counterparts with HLA-B53 nor in any of the low-risk volunteers. The strongest responses were generated toward the HIV-1 pol peptide, which lies close to the active site of reverse transcriptase, and to the nef peptide, which is conserved between HIV-1 and -2. HIV-specific CTL in seronegative subjects could potentially be a response to acute HIV infection, before the development of antibodies, but the women were still seronegative and virus-culture negative 3 months after the CTL were first detected, making recent infection extremely unlikely. These women remain seronegative with no evidence of HIV infection by polymerase chain reaction or viral culture. Their CTL activity may represent protective immunity against HIV infection.

PMID:
7584954
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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