Summary: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is characterized by a progressive decline in immune functions. The behavior of B-cell clones specifically engaged in the anti-HIV response could play a relevant role in the pathogenesis of such impairment. The spectrotype observed on isoelectric focusing and reverse blotting after antigen challenge is the serum image of antigen-specific B-cell activity and may provide some insight into Agdependent B-cell clone recruitment. In this study, we examined the spectrotype of anti-gp120 antibodies in a group of sera from 56 HIV-infected patients, belonging to groups II, III, and IV of the Centers for Disease Control classification, as well as in a group of 31 sera from 12 patients in a 21-month followup evaluation (range 7-36 months). All tested sera were positive for gp120 antibodies on Western blot. In the first group of 56 HIV-infected subjects, only 19 displayed well-focused banding patterns. Among these, the spectrotype was found to be consistently oligoclonal, thus confirming clonal restriction of anti-gp120 antibodies previously described by other investigators. No correlation could be established between a particular spectrotype and phase of the disease. The follow-up evaluation in the second group of 31 sera revealed the tendency in each patient to maintain the same spectrotype throughout the course of the disease. These findings confirm clonal restriction of anti-gp120 antibodies in HIV infection and suggest that the number of B-cell clones recruited in the anti-gp120 response remains stable over the course of the disease, at least in the time range explored by us.
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