Neutralizing Antiviral Antibody Responses

Adv Immunol. 2001;79:1-53. doi: 10.1016/s0065-2776(01)79001-3.


Neutralizing antibodies are evolutionarily important effectors of immunity against viruses. Their evaluation has revealed a number of basic insights into specificity, rules of reactivity (tolerance), and memory—namely, (1) Specificity of neutralizing antibodies is defined by their capacity to distinguish between virus serotypes; (2) B cell reactivity is determined by antigen structure, concentration, and time of availability in secondary lymphoid organs; and (3) B cell memory is provided by elevated protective antibody titers in serum that are depending on antigen stimulation. These perhaps slightly overstated rules are simple, correlate with in vivo evidence as well as clinical observations, and appear to largely demystify many speculations about antibodies and B cell physiology. The chapter also considers successful vaccines and compares them with those infectious diseases where efficient protective vaccines are lacking, it is striking to note that all successful vaccines induce high levels of neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) that are both necessary and sufficient to protect the host from disease. Successful vaccination against infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, leprosy, or HIV would require induction of additional long-lasting T cell responses to control infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology*
  • Antibody-Dependent Enhancement
  • Antigen-Antibody Reactions / immunology
  • Antigens, Viral / ultrastructure
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Complement System Proteins / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Lymphocyte Cooperation
  • Receptors, Fc / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Vaccines / immunology
  • Virus Diseases / immunology
  • Viruses / immunology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antigens, Viral
  • Receptors, Fc
  • Vaccines
  • Complement System Proteins