HIV-Associated Alterations of the Biophysical Features of Maternal Antibodies Correlate With Their Reduced Transfer Across the Placenta

J Infect Dis. 2022 Oct 17;226(8):1441-1450. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiac222.


Background: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection during pregnancy is associated with reduced transplacental transfer of maternal antibodies and increased risk of severe infections in children who are exposed and uninfected with HIV. The basis of this reduced transfer of maternal immunity has not yet been defined but could involve modifications in the biophysical features of antibodies. The objective of this study was to assess the impact of maternal HIV infection on the biophysical features of serum IgG and transplacental antibody transfer.

Methods: Maternal serum IgG subclass levels, Fc glycosylation, Fc receptor (FcR) binding, and transplacental transfer of pathogen-specific maternal IgG were measured in pregnant women with HIV (WWH) and pregnant women testing negative for HIV (WNH) in Cape Town, South Africa.

Results: Maternal antibody profiles were strikingly different between pregnant WWH and WNH. Antibody binding to FcγR2a and FcγR2b, IgG1 and IgG3 antibodies, and agalactosylated antibodies were all elevated in WWH, whereas digalactosylated and sialylated antibodies were reduced compared to pregnant WNH. Antibody features that were elevated in WWH were also correlated with reduced transplacental transfer of vaccine antigen-specific antibodies.

Conclusions: HIV infection is associated with marked alterations of biophysical features of maternal IgG and reduced placental transfer, potentially impairing antimicrobial immunity.

Keywords: Fc receptors; HIV infection; IgG; pregnancy; transplacental transfer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Female
  • HIV Infections*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Maternally-Acquired
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Receptors, Fc
  • South Africa
  • Vaccines*


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Receptors, Fc
  • Vaccines