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J Virol Methods. 1987 Aug;17(1-2):19-34.

Pathogenesis of HIV and its implications for serodiagnosis and monitoring of antiviral therapy.

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Virology Department, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is lymphotropic and neurotropic. In vivo clinical and immunological abnormalities develop in a large proportion of long-term HIV antibody seropositive persons. Different stages of HIV infection are marked by expression of HIV genes, production of HIV antibodies, formation of antigen/antibody complexes and clearance of such complexes. Transient HIV antigenemia appearing generally 6-8 wk prior to HIV antibody (HIV-Ab) seroconversion and lasting 3-4 mth is generally seen in acute infection. IgM antibodies predominantly to core proteins may occasionally be detectable when, or just before, IgG antibodies appear. If IgG antibodies to both envelope and core proteins persist in the absence of HIV-Ag the short-term prognosis is relatively good. However, HIV-Ag seroconversion may appear at any time after HIV-Ab seroconversion. Progression to AIDS is strongly associated with declining or absent levels of IgG antibodies to p24. IgG2 and IgG4 antibodies to HIV, which are mainly directed to p24, disappear most dramatically. Titers of antibodies to HIV p24 below 64 are strongly associated with the presence of HIV antigen and a poor clinical outcome. HIV antigen was detected frequently in sera from children in all stages of infection in contrast to adults whose sera were generally HIV-Ag negative when asymptomatic and positive when AIDS was apparent. HIV antigen may be less efficiently detected with the present assays in sera from regions where the prototype strains of HIV (HTLV-III and LAV) are less prevalent, like Central Africa. Persistence of HIV-Ag in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) appears to be pathognomonic for progressive encephalopathy, particularly in children. Levels of HIV-Ag in serum, and possibly in CSF, can be decreased by nucleoside analogues, such as AZT. This indicates HIV-Ag and possibly antibody to HIV core protein p24 as suitable markers for selecting individuals for antiviral therapy as well as monitoring the efficacy of such therapy.

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