UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Quantifying Anti-HIV Envelope-Specific Antibodies in Plasma from HIV Infected Individuals Kant, Sanket; Zhang, Ningyu; Routy, Jean-Pierre; Tremblay, Cécile; Thomas, Réjean; Szabo, Jason; Côté, Pierre; Trottier, Benoit; LeBlanc, Roger; Rouleau, Danielle; Harris, Marianne; Dupuy, Franck P.; Bernard, Nicole F.

Abstract

Quantifying HIV Envelope (Env)-specific antibodies in HIV+ plasma is useful for interpreting antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity assay results. HIV Env, the only viral protein expressed on the surface of infected cells, has a native trimeric closed conformation on cells infected with wild-type HIV. However, CD4⁺ uninfected bystander cells in HIV⁺ cell cultures bind gp120 shed from HIV⁺ cells exposing CD4-induced epitopes normally hidden in native Env. We used flow-cytometry based assays to quantify antibodies in HIV⁺ plasma specific for native trimeric Env or gp120/CD4 conjugates using CEM.NKr.CCR5 (CEM) cells infected with HIV (iCEM) or coated with recombinant gp120 (cCEM), as a surrogate for gp120⁺ HIV- bystander cells. Results from both assays were compared to those of a plate-based ELISA to monomeric gp120. The levels of Env-specific antibodies to cCEM and iCEM, measured by flow cytometry, and to gp120 by ELISA were positively correlated. More antibodies in HIV⁺ plasma recognized the gp120 conformation exposed on cCEM than on iCEM. Comparisons of plasma from untreated progressors, treated progressors, and elite controllers revealed that antibodies to Env epitopes were the lowest in treated progressors. Plasma from elite controllers and untreated progressors had similarly high levels of Env-specific antibodies, despite elite controllers having undetectable HIV viral loads, while untreated progressors maintained high viral loads.

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