Enhanced phagocytic activity of HIV-specific antibodies correlates with natural production of immunoglobulins with skewed affinity for FcγR2a and FcγR2b

J Virol. 2013 May;87(10):5468-76. doi: 10.1128/JVI.03403-12. Epub 2013 Mar 6.


While development of an HIV vaccine that can induce neutralizing antibodies remains a priority, decades of research have proven that this is a daunting task. However, accumulating evidence suggests that antibodies with the capacity to harness innate immunity may provide some protection. While significant research has focused on the cytolytic properties of antibodies in acquisition and control, less is known about the role of additional effector functions. In this study, we investigated antibody-dependent phagocytosis of HIV immune complexes, and we observed significant differences in the ability of antibodies from infected subjects to mediate this critical effector function. We observed both quantitative differences in the capacity of antibodies to drive phagocytosis and qualitative differences in their FcγR usage profile. We demonstrate that antibodies from controllers and untreated progressors exhibit increased phagocytic activity, altered Fc domain glycosylation, and skewed interactions with FcγR2a and FcγR2b in both bulk plasma and HIV-specific IgG. While increased phagocytic activity may directly influence immune activation via clearance of inflammatory immune complexes, it is also plausible that Fc receptor usage patterns may regulate the immune response by modulating downstream signals following phagocytosis--driving passive degradation of internalized virus, release of immune modulating cytokines and chemokines, or priming of a more effective adaptive immune response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibody Affinity
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex / metabolism*
  • HIV / immunology*
  • HIV Antibodies / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • Humans
  • Phagocytosis*
  • Receptors, IgG / metabolism*


  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Fc gamma receptor IIA
  • Fc gamma receptor IIB
  • HIV Antibodies
  • Receptors, IgG