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Nature. 1985 Jul 4-10;316(6023):72-4.

HTLV-III-neutralizing antibodies in patients with AIDS and AIDS-related complex.


The isolation of the human T-cell leukaemia (lymphotropic) virus type III (HTLV-III or lymphadenopathy-associated virus) from cells of many patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) presented the first evidence that the virus was the aetiological agent of the disease. Subsequent seroepidemiological studies have shown the presence of HTLV-III-specific antibodies in the serum of most patients with AIDS and AIDS-related complex (ARC), and in the serum of many individuals at risk for AIDS. Despite these extensive studies, there are no reports of protective effects of HTLV-III antibodies. In contrast, neutralizing antibodies specific for HTLV-I and -II have been identified previously. Therefore, we investigated whether HTLV-III-exposed individuals possess antibody activities capable of inhibiting viral infection. Here, we report that natural antibodies capable of neutralizing HTLV-III infection of H9 cells were detected in most adults AIDS and ARC patients but in no normal healthy heterosexual controls. Geometric mean antibody titres in ARC patients were double those in AIDS patients, and were even higher in two antibody-positive healthy homosexuals. This suggests that virus neutralizing antibodies may exert an in vivo protective effect. The presence of these antibodies indicates an immunological response to HTLV-III which potentially may be manipulated for therapeutic advantage. The methodology used here will be useful in monitoring future vaccine approaches.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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