Occupancy and mechanism in antibody-mediated neutralization of animal viruses

J Gen Virol. 2002 Sep;83(Pt 9):2091-2108. doi: 10.1099/0022-1317-83-9-2091.


Neutralization of virus infectivity by antibodies is an important component of immunity to several virus infections. Here, the immunochemical basis for the action of neutralizing antibodies, and what role their induction of conformational changes in the antigen might play, is reviewed. Theories of the mechanisms by which antibodies neutralize virus infectivity in vitro are also presented. The theoretical and empirical foundation of the hypothesis that viruses are neutralized by a single antibody per virion is critically reviewed. The relationship between antibody occupancy on virions and the mechanism of neutralization is explored. Examples of neutralization mediated through antibody interference with virus attachment and entry are discussed and test implications of refined theories of neutralization by antibody coating of virions are formulated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology*
  • Antigen-Antibody Reactions*
  • Antigens, Viral / chemistry
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology
  • Binding Sites, Antibody
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Neutralization Tests
  • Receptors, Virus / immunology
  • Virus Physiological Phenomena
  • Virus Replication / immunology
  • Viruses / immunology*
  • Viruses / pathogenicity


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antigens, Viral
  • Receptors, Virus