Objectives: To analyse the diversity and divergence of the viral populations in three mother-child pairs in longitudinally obtained samples for up to 7 years.
Methods: Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were obtained from three mothers at delivery and three to four samples were obtained from each of their children from 1.5 months up to 78 months of age. The V3 region of HIV-1 was amplified by polymerase chain reaction, cloned and sequenced. HIV-1 DNA sequence comparisons were performed by phylogenetic analysis.
Results: The viral population was initially homogenous in two children but highly heterogeneous in one child. Three patterns of vertical transmission seemed to have occurred: transmission of the most prevalent maternal strain, of a minor maternal strain and of multiple maternal strains. In one child, a possible reappearance of a maternal sequence was observed at 34 months of age.
Conclusions: Children may become infected with the most prevalent maternal strain, a minor maternal variant or multiple maternal quasispecies. Maternal viral variants may reappear in children after several years of infection and could possibly be derived from a reservoir of founder quasispecies established during the children's primary HIV-1 infection.