In this work, an ELISA for the quantitative determination of IgG anti- CD4 autoantibodies was validated and utilized in the follow-up of two cohorts of HIV-1-exposed seronegative subjects. A serum with an arbitrarily assigned concentration of 100,000 units/ml was used as a reference, and the detection limit, inter- and intraassay variability, and analytical recovery were calculated. The study subjects included adults sexually exposed to HIV-1- infected partners and the newborns of HIV-1+ mothers who seroreverted by 18 months of age. Some of these individuals were studied over an 18- to 24- month period. The detection limit of the assay was 2000 AU/ml. Intra- and interassay variability was, respectively, 3.92 and 3.90%. Analytical recovery in an assay in which a fixed amount of anti-CD4 antibodies was added to different samples was 98%. A proportion of adults (16 of 47, 34.0%) and babies (12 of 27, 44.4%) had significantly higher concentrations of anti-CD4 antibodies. Among them, 8 adults maintained the same concentration as that found in the first determination; on the other hand, 12 babies born to seronegative mothers showed a significant increase in the concentration of anti-CD4 antibodies during their first months of life. In conclusion, anti- CD4 antibodies can be measured using a validated ELISA. They represent a serologic trait that is quantitatively conserved in HIV-1-exposed seronegative adult individuals and is actively acquired by newborns to HIV+ mothers.
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