Evolution of broadly cross-reactive HIV-1-neutralizing activity: therapy-associated decline, positive association with detectable viremia, and partial restoration of B-cell subpopulations

J Virol. 2013 Nov;87(22):12227-36. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02155-13. Epub 2013 Sep 4.


Little is known about the stability of HIV-1 cross-neutralizing responses. Taking into account the fact that neutralization breadth has been positively associated with plasma viral load, there is no explanation for the presence of broadly neutralizing responses in a group of patients on treatment with undetectable viremia. In addition, the B-cell profile responsible for broadly cross-neutralizing responses is unknown. Here we studied the evolution of neutralizing responses and the B-cell subpopulation distribution in a group of patients with broadly cross-reactive HIV-1-neutralizing activity. We studied neutralization breadth evolution in a group of six previously identified broadly cross-neutralizing patients and six control patients during a 6-year period with a previously described minipanel of recombinant viruses from five different subtypes. B-cell subpopulation distribution during the study was also determined by multiparametric flow cytometry. Broadly cross-neutralizing activity was transient in four broad cross-neutralizers and stable, up to 4.6 years, in the other two. In four out of five broad cross-neutralizers who initiated treatment, a neutralization breadth loss occurred after viremia had been suppressed for as much as 20 months. B-cell subpopulation analyses revealed a significant increase in the frequency of naive B cells in broadly cross-reactive samples, compared with samples with less neutralization breadth (increased from 44% to 62%). We also observed a significant decrease in tissue-like and activated memory B cells (decreased from 19% to 12% and from 17% to 9%, respectively). Our data suggest that HIV-1 broadly cross-neutralizing activity is variable over time and associated with detectable viremia and partial B-cell restoration.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / blood
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / virology*
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross Reactions
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • HIV Antibodies / immunology*
  • HIV Antibodies / therapeutic use
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / therapy
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV-1 / genetics
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neutralization Tests
  • Viral Load
  • Viremia / genetics
  • Viremia / virology*


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • HIV Antibodies