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Trends Microbiol. 2008 Dec;16(12):596-604. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2008.08.008. Epub 2008 Oct 27.

Humoral immunity to HIV-1: neutralisation and antibody effector functions.

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MRC/UCL Centre for Medical Molecular Virology, Division of Infection and Immunity, University College London, 46 Cleveland Street, London W1T 4JF, UK.


Several features of HIV have frustrated efforts to develop a vaccine able to induce broadly neutralising antibodies. The enormous genetic diversity of HIV is a major factor, accompanied by the camouflaged nature of the envelope spike, upon which HIV depends for cellular entry and to which antibodies must bind to neutralise. The picture is further complicated by the presence of nonfunctional envelope glycoproteins on the surface of HIV that are immunogenic. Consequently, HIV attracts antibodies that do not directly neutralise the virus but still activate complement and engage Fc receptors, which can both enhance and inhibit infection. The various effects that anti-envelope antibodies have on HIV infection will be reviewed here. Further research is needed to determine if these in vitro-characterised activities have relevance in vivo, and if some of the undesirable effects of non-neutralising antibodies can be avoided or the beneficial effects harnessed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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