Summary: Western blot with a time-dependent enhanced chemiluminescence immunodetection method (ECL-WB) was shown to be 100-fold more sensitive than standard commercial colorimetric Western blots (WB) for detecting serum IgG to human immunodeficiency virus type I (HIV-1). ECL-WB was then used to test rectal secretions from 15 HIV-1 infected subjects (HIV +) and 7 uninfected subjects (HIV-) to document local IgG, IgA, and secretory component-associated immunoglobulin (SC-Ig) to HIV-1 proteins. Fourteen of 15 HIV+ subjects had rectal IgA to at least 1 HIV-1 protein, most often to gp41 (80%) or p24 (60%) and 14 (93%) had IgG to gp160, gp120, or gp41. Of seven HIV - subjects, none had detectable bands to HIV-1 proteins. SC-Ig to HIV-1 proteins was detected in all five rectal samples tested. However, the antibody profiles differed from those of rectal IgA, suggesting more than one source of rectal IgA to HIV. ECL-WB requires individual optimization and interpretation for each specimen as well as expensive reagents and is, therefore, not currently applicable to screening assays. However, the method offers promise as a sensitive method to characterize low-level immune responses (IgG, IgA, and SC-Ig) to HIV-1 proteins at local sites such as rectal mucosae.
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