Rapid evolution of the neutralizing antibody response to HIV type 1 infection

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Douglas D RichmanChristos J Petropoulos


A recombinant virus assay was used to characterize in detail neutralizing antibody responses directed at circulating autologous HIV in plasma. Examining serial plasma specimens in a matrix format, most patients with primary HIV infection rapidly generated significant neutralizing antibody responses to early (0-39 months) autologous viruses, whereas responses to laboratory and heterologous primary strains were often lower and delayed. Plasma virus continually and rapidly evolved to escape neutralization, indicating that neutralizing antibody exerts a level of selective pressure that has been underappreciated based on earlier, less comprehensive characterizations. These data argue that neutralizing antibody responses account for the extensive variation in the envelope gene that is observed in the early months after primary HIV infection.


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