Maternal Humoral Immune Correlates of Peripartum Transmission of Clade C HIV-1 in the Setting of Peripartum Antiretrovirals

Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2017 Aug 4;24(8):e00062-17. doi: 10.1128/CVI.00062-17. Print 2017 Aug.


Despite the widespread use of antiretrovirals (ARV), more than 150,000 pediatric HIV-1 infections continue to occur annually. Supplemental strategies are necessary to eliminate pediatric HIV infections. We previously reported that maternal HIV envelope-specific anti-V3 IgG and CD4 binding site-directed antibodies, as well as tier 1 virus neutralization, predicted a reduced risk of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV-1 in the pre-ARV era U.S.-based Women and Infants Transmission Study (WITS) cohort. As the majority of ongoing pediatric HIV infections occur in sub-Saharan Africa, we sought to determine if the same maternal humoral immune correlates predicted MTCT in a subset of the Malawian Breastfeeding, Antiretrovirals, and Nutrition (BAN) cohort of HIV-infected mothers (n = 88, with 45 transmitting and 43 nontransmitting). Women and infants received ARV at delivery; thus, the majority of MTCT was in utero (91%). In a multivariable logistic regression model, neither maternal anti-V3 IgG nor clade C tier 1 virus neutralization was associated with MTCT. Unexpectedly, maternal CD4 binding-site antibodies and anti-variable loop 1 and 2 (V1V2) IgG were associated with increased MTCT, independent of maternal viral load. Neither infant envelope (Env)-specific IgG levels nor maternal IgG transplacental transfer efficiency was associated with transmission. Distinct humoral immune correlates of MTCT in the BAN and WITS cohorts could be due to differences between transmission modes, virus clades, or maternal antiretroviral use. The association between specific maternal antibody responses and in utero transmission, which is distinct from potentially protective maternal antibodies in the WITS cohort, underlines the importance of investigating additional cohorts with well-defined transmission modes to understand the role of antibodies during HIV-1 MTCT.

Keywords: antiretrovirals; clade C HIV-1; humoral immunity; mother-to-child transmission; peripartum transmission.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology
  • Breast Feeding
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • HIV Antibodies / biosynthesis
  • HIV Antibodies / blood*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Humoral*
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Infant
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical*
  • Peripartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / immunology*
  • Viral Load


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • HIV Antibodies
  • Immunoglobulin G