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AIDS. 1999 Jul 30;13(11):1323-31.

Compartmentalization of the IgG immune response to HIV-1 in breast milk.

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Unité INSERM U430, Hôpital Broussais, Paris, France.



To evaluate the IgG immune response to HIV-1 in colostrum.


Paired serum and colostrum were collected from 16 asymptomatic HIV-1-infected women. IgG to gp160 and to four peptides (gp41 immunodominant DI domain, gp41/Id; EDLKWA epitope of DIII domain, gp41/K; gp120 C-terminus, gp120/Ct; V3 loop, gp120/V3) were evaluated in all samples. Functional activity of purified IgG was assessed for the ability to block transcytosis of cell-associated HIV-1 through a tight monolayer of endometrial epithelial cell line HEC1.


IgG antibody to gp160 and to the four env-encoded synthetic peptides were detected in all specimens. The mean specific activity of IgG to gp41/K was 4.2 fold higher in colostrum than in paired serum. In contrast, mean specific activities of IgG to gp160 and gp41/Id were twofold higher in serum than in paired colostrum. Mean specific activities of IgG to gp120/V3 and to gp120/Ct were similar in systemic and milk compartments. Functional activity of IgG was evaluated in six paired serum and colostrum: in two women, serum IgG was 3.0 and 7.6 fold more efficient in blocking transcytosis than colostrum IgG; in one patient, colostrum IgG exhibited a 28 fold higher inhibitory capacity than serum IgG; in the remaining patients, serum and colostrum IgG demonstrated similar inhibitory activities against transcytosis of HIV.


These features are consistent with a compartmentalization of the humoral IgG immune response to HIV within the mammary gland. Some HIV-1 antigens are able to induce a strong humoral mucosal immune response which may be of relevance for the design of a mucosal vaccine against HIV-1.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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