Background: HIV-1 seroreversion in infants with vertically transmitted HIV-1 infection who started ART in the first months of life has been reported in only a subset of patients. However, the reason why most infants remain seropositive despite similar treatment response is not understood. Here, we assessed whether HIV-1 seroreversion in maternally infected infants is associated with genetic determinants.
Methods: HIV-1-infected infants with a history of documented HIV-1 seroreversion were identified throughout Germany using a standardized questionnaire. At study entry immune reconstitution and anti-HIV-1 antibody expression were monitored as clinical parameters. To search for genetic determinants high-resolution HLA genotyping was performed. In addition, the coding sequence of the chemokine receptor CCR5 was analyzed by Sanger sequencing regarding potential mutations.
Results: Patients showed normal numbers and frequencies of lymphocyte subpopulations. Five out of eight patients still had seronegative HIV-1 antibody status at study entry. HLA genotyping revealed the enrichment of HLA-DQB1*03 and DQB1*06 alleles within the patient cohort. Only one patient was found to carry a 32 bp-deletion within the CCR5 gene.
Conclusion: Our results indicate that the phenotype of HIV-1 seroreversion in infants might correlate with the presence of HLA class II alleles DQB1*03 and DQB1*06. This finding supports the idea of genetic predisposition determining HIV-1 seroreversion in vertically infected infants effectively treated with ART.