: To be successful with strategies involving passive immunization or the generation of neutralizing antibodies against HIV, it is crucial that we improve our understanding of the process of antibody-mediated HIV neutralization. We have used a neutralization assay based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) that is more rapid and sensitive than the conventional p24 neutralization assay based on enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). PCR assays permit measurement of the number of infectious events and can detect small amounts of HIV-1 only a few days postinfection. In these studies, the human anti-V3 monoclonal antibody 694/98-D was used to neutralize the infectivity of the laboratory isolate HIVIIIB for CEM-SS cells. 8E5/LAV cells, which contain a single integrated copy of proviral DNA per cell, served as a standard to determine the amount of HIV-1 copies in infected CEM-SS cells. Evaluation of antibody-mediated neutralization was possible at 2 to 3 days postinfection, at a time when p24 readouts were not conclusive. We achieved >95% neutralization of HIVIIIB, and of its molecular clone HXB2, using the monoclonal antibody 694/98-D. This degree of neutralization is probably highly significant in vivo. Nevertheless, a small amount of both HIVIIIB and HXB2 (~5%) escapes neutralization and can consistently be detected after a few days by this sensitive assay. Experiments with different anti-HIV monoclonal antibodies and viruses showed that the assay could be applied to anti-V3 as well as anti-CD4 binding domain antibodies as well as HIV laboratory strains or primary isolates.
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