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Whey acidic proteins (WAPs): novel modulators of innate immunity to HIV infection

Reading, James L.a; Meyers, Adrienne F.A.b,c; Vyakarnam, Annapurnaa

Current Opinion in HIV and AIDS: March 2012 - Volume 7 - Issue 2 - p 172–179
doi: 10.1097/COH.0b013e32835005d9

Purpose of review To discuss how whey acidic proteins (WAPs), a new class of immunomodulatory soluble mediators, impact innate immunity to HIV infection.

Recent findings Innate immunity to HIV infection is increasingly being recognized as critical in determining initial virus transmission and dissemination and may, therefore, be exploited in vaccine and microbicide intervention strategies to combat HIV infection. Several important innate immune mediators have recently been shown to regulate HIV infection in vitro and are, thus, implicated in in vivo immunity to the virus. These include soluble mediators, such as type I interferon, the defensins and more recently WAPs. Recent evidence is discussed, which show that WAPs are pleiotropic soluble mediators that may impact the course of HIV infection in two ways: as regulators of HIV replication and as regulators of innate and adaptive immunity.

Summary A better understanding of host factors that regulate HIV transmission is essential in the development of novel therapeutic strategies. This review focuses on recent findings that highlight the HIV regulatory and anti-inflammatory function of WAPs and assesses their potential to be exploited as novel therapeutics.

aDepartment of Infectious Diseases, King's College London, London, UK

bNational HIV and Retrovirology Laboratories, Public Health Agency of Canada

cDepartment of Medical Microbiology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Correspondence to Dr Annapurna Vyakarnam, Department of Infectious Diseases, King's College London, 2nd Floor, New Guy's House, Guy's Campus, London SE1 9RT, UK. Tel: +44 207 18 83077; e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.