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Mucosal Immunol. 2013 Jul;6(4):692-703. doi: 10.1038/mi.2012.107. Epub 2013 Jan 9.

HIV-1 gp41 envelope IgA is frequently elicited after transmission but has an initial short response half-life.

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Duke Human Vaccine Institute, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA.


Prevention of HIV-1 transmission at mucosal surfaces will likely require durable pre-existing mucosal anti-HIV-1 antibodies (Abs). Defining the ontogeny, specificities and potentially protective nature of the initial mucosal virus-specific B-cell response will be critical for understanding how to induce protective Ab responses by vaccination. Genital fluids from patients within the earliest stages of acute HIV-1 infection (Fiebig I-VI) were examined for multiple anti-HIV specificities. Gp41 (but not gp120) Env immunoglobulin (Ig)A Abs were frequently elicited in both plasma and mucosal fluids within the first weeks of transmission. However, shortly after induction, these initial mucosal gp41 Env IgA Abs rapidly declined with a t(½) of ∼2.7 days. B-cell-activating factor belonging to the TNF family (BAFF) was elevated immediately preceding the appearance of gp41 Abs, likely contributing to an initial T-independent Ab response. HIV-1 transmission frequently elicits mucosal HIV-1 envelope-specific IgA responses targeted to gp41 that have a short half-life.

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