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Nat Med. 1997 Nov;3(11):1250-7.

HIV-specific mucosal and cellular immunity in HIV-seronegative partners of HIV-seropositive individuals.

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Centro M.S.T./U.O. Malattie Infettive, Ospedale S.M. Annunziata, Florence, Italy.


HIV-specific mucosal and cellular immunity was analyzed in heterosexual couples discordant for HIV status in serum and in HIV-unexposed controls. HIV-specific IgA but not IgG was present in urine and vaginal wash samples from HIV-exposed seronegative individuals (ESN), whereas both IgA and IgG were observed in their HIV-seropositive partners; antibodies were not detected in low-risk controls. Envelope protein (Env) peptide-stimulated interleukin-2 (IL-2) production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) was detected in 9 out of 16 ESNs, 5 out of 16 HIV-infected patients and 1 out of 50 controls. Env peptide-stimulated PBMCs of ESNs produced more IL-2 and less IL-10 compared with those of HIV-infected individuals; no differences were observed in chemokine production or in CCR5 expression. These data demonstrate that a compartmentalized immune response to pathogens is possible in humans and raise the possibility of protective roles for cell-mediated immunity and mucosal IgA in HIV-seronegative individuals exposed to HIV.

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