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Polymerase Chain Reaction-Based Assay for Antibody-Mediated Neutralization of HIV-1 Reveals a Population of Nonneutralized Virus Undetected by Conventional p24 Assay

Achkar Jacqueline M.; Wang, Xiao-Hong; Nyambi, Phillipe; Gorny, Miroslaw K.; Zolla-Pazner, Susan; Bandrés, Juan C.
JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: July 1st, 2000

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.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Juan C. Bandres, New York Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 4 East 23rd Street, Room 18125N, New York, NY 10010, U.S.A.; email:

Manuscript received July 7, 1999; accepted March 28, 2000.

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.