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Clin Immunol Immunopathol. 1993 Apr;67(1):40-9.

Isotypic and IgG subclass restriction of the humoral immune responses to human T-lymphotropic virus type-I.

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Retrovirus Diseases Branch, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.


We have investigated the isotypic and IgG subclass profile of the antibody response to HTLV-I structural proteins (gag and env) in patients with HTLV-I-associated myelopathy (HAM; n = 20), adult T-cell leukemia (ATL; n = 15), and HTLV-I-positive asymptomatic carriers (ASY; n = 21). IgG, IgM, and IgA were the predominant antibody responses in all HTLV-I-infected individuals; minimal IgE response was detectable in the HAM and ATL groups. Among the IgG subclasses, IgG1 was the most predominant antibody detected in responses to HTLV-I antigens, followed by IgG3 and IgG2; IgG4 could not be detected in any patient group. Levels of both IgG1 and IgG3 were significantly higher in patients with HAM, when compared to ATL and ASY (P < 0.01 for both comparisons). In addition, Ig isotypes and IgG subclass antibody in patient sera reactive with purified viral proteins and several immunodominant epitopes, represented by synthetic peptides, Gag-1a102-117, Env-1(191-214), Env-5(242-257), and recombinant proteins, MTA-1(162-209) and r21e303-440, were examined to delineate specific epitopes responsible for inducing the host immune responses of each isotype and subclass to the structural proteins of HTLV-I. IgG, IgM, and IgA responses were directed against both the gag and env gene products. Among IgG subclasses, the IgG1 and IgG3 responses were directed against both the gag (p53, p24, p19, and Gag-1a) and env (recombinant MTA-1, r21e, and synthetic Env-1, Env-5) proteins; IgG2 responses were mainly restricted to gag proteins. The frequency profile of HTLV-I-specific antigen recognition in all four IgG subclasses were similar in all of the clinical groups. These results further define the fine specificity of anti-HTLV-I immune reaction for understanding the mechanism of pathogenesis in these individuals and suggest that factors other than the humoral immune responses may be associated with the clinical manifestation of the disease.

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