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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 1998 Apr 10;14(6):475-81.

Neutralizing antibody and perinatal transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1. New York City Perinatal HIV Transmission Collaborative Study Group.

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Department of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30303, USA.


The major immunologic determinants for perinatal transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) remain largely unknown. The presence of maternal neutralizing antibodies has been proposed as an explanation for why the majority of infants born to untreated HIV-1-infected women do not become infected. Using maternal and infant specimens collected as part of a longitudinal cohort study of perinatal transmission in New York City between 1991 and 1995, we successfully obtained primary viral isolates from 10 of 20 perinatally nontransmitting (NTR) women, 14 of 20 perinatally transmitting (TR) women, and 13 of 13 of their HIV-1-infected infants. Neutralizing antibody titers were then determined using a titer reduction assay. TR and NTR women did not differ in their ability to neutralize autologous virus or laboratory strains LAI and MN. Infant viruses were not less sensitive to neutralization by maternal sera than autologous viruses. Similarly, TR and NTR isolates were neutralized equally well using a reference serum with broad neutralizing ability. Finally, a heteroduplex tracking assay (HTA) was used to analyze the degree of viral homology within 13 TR maternal-infant pairs. In eight pairs, maternal and infant isolates were highly homologous. In five pairs, lesser degrees of homology were observed, consistent with perinatal transmission of a minor species. However, these isolates were no more or less resistant to maternal sera than were homologous isolates. Thus we found no association between the presence of neutralizing antibody in maternal sera as measured by a titer reduction neutralization (inactivation) assay and perinatal transmission of HIV-1.

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