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Oral Dis. 1997 May;3 Suppl 1:S64-9.

Secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI) in mucosal fluids inhibits HIV-I.

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Laboratory of Immunology, NIDR, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Despite the presence of HIV-1 in the oral cavity, transmission of the virus through saliva has not been proven. Consistent with these observations, we recently identified an endogenous 12 kD protein, secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI), in saliva which blocks HIV-1 infection in vitro. Whereas other salivary proteins tested were inactive, purified native or recombinant SLPI inhibited HIV-1 infection of human monocytes at 100 ng ml-1. Levels of SLPI quantitated by ELISA in saliva from control and HIV-1 infected individuals exceeded this level, consistent with in vivo antiviral activity. As in saliva, levels of SLPI mRNA determined by Northern hybridization, and protein as assessed by immunohistochemistry in the salivary glands of control and infected populations were comparable. In contrast to adults, oral transmission occurs in infants, possibly due to their lack of fully developed salivary glands. To determine whether the inadequate antiviral protection might be compensated for by maternal sources, we evaluated breast milk samples obtained 6 months postpartum. Levels of SLPI were significantly lower than in saliva and not sufficient to provide antiviral protection in contrast to colostrum samples in which SLPI levels were equivalent to those in saliva and able to inhibit HIV-1 infection when tested in vitro. These data suggest that breast milk may provide transient antiviral activity in the newborn, but that this maternal source of SLPI is of insufficient duration to maintain protection against mucosal transmission of the virus over time. The high functional levels of SLPI in saliva and the low levels in mature breast milk correlate with negligible rates of HIV-1 transmission by saliva and higher rates by breast feeding.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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