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AIDS Res. 1984-1985;1(6):407-21.

Prevalence of AIDS-associated retrovirus and antibodies among male homosexuals at risk for AIDS in Greenwich Village.


LAV/HTLV-III has been closely linked to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). We have studied and correlated the prevalence of AIDS-associated retrovirus and retroviral antibodies in several groups of male homosexuals from Greenwich Village. Retrovirus was detected in cultured peripheral blood lymphocytes by testing for reverse transcriptase (RT) and confirmed by establishment of virus-producer cell lines, and electron microscopy. Seventy-six percent of patients with AIDS, 93% with AIDS-related complex (ARC), 69% with generalized lymphadenopathy (LAS), and 35% of asymptomatic homosexuals were positive for virus in the RT assay. Transmission of the virus from RT-positive lymphocytes into the CEM cell line was successful in 10 of 11 randomly chosen cases. No virus isolates were obtained from lymphocytes of 8 heterosexual individuals. Serum antibodies against AIDS-associated virus were detected by indirect immunofluorescence assay and confirmed by Western blotting, using an LAV/HTLV-III-producer cell line, LAV-N1, which we established. LAV/N1 virus was purified by ultracentrifugation through sucrose gradient and the pattern of its proteins was determined by SDS-gel electrophoresis and Western blotting using sera from an AIDS patient. The major polypeptides of LAV/HTLV-III (19, 25-27, 32, 42 and 54 kilodalton) were present. These proteins did not react in Western blots with sera positive for Adult T cell leukemia virus (ATLV). thus, LAV-N1 and ATLV were not antigenically related. In our assay for LAV/HTLV-III antibodies, 18 (100%) of patients with AIDS, 13 (100%) of patients with ARC, 24 (69%) of 35 patients with LAS and 9 (39%) of 23 asymptomatic homosexuals were sero-positive. Heterosexual controls were negative. All IF-positive sera tested by Western blot contained antibodies against specific viral proteins. High titers (greater than or equal to 1:1280) of serum antibodies against LAV/HTLV-III virus were detected in 71% of AIDS patients, 62% with ARC, 38% LAS and 13% among asymptomatic homosexuals. Our data show that the presence of LAV/HTLV-III antibodies correlates with the presence of infectious virus. Antibody titers may also correlate with progression toward AIDS.

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