Cellular immune factors associated with mother-to-infant transmission of HIV

Mario Clerici, Antonio V. Sison, Jay A. Berzofsky, Tamara A. Rakusan, Carl D. Brandt, Maadhava Ellaurie, Marialuisa Villa, Christine Colie, David J. Venzon, John L. Sever, Gene M. Shearer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To study a possible correlate of protection in mother-to-infant transmission of HIV infection. In particular, to determine whether lack of HIV-specific T-helper (TH) function as indicated by HIV and non-HIV antigen-stimulated interleukin (IL)-2 production of mother and/or newborn peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) is associated with mother-to-infant transmission of HIV. Methods: PBL from 21 HIV-seropositive pregnant women and 23 cord blood leukocytes (CBL) from their offspring were studied for in vitro TH function by IL-2 production in response to HIV and non-HIV antigens. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and viral culture assays were performed to determine HIV infection of the infants. Results: PBL from 10 out of 21 (48%) mothers and from eight out of 23 (35%) CBL samples responded to two or more out of five synthetic gp160 envelope (env) peptides. Three of the 23 (13%) offspring were shown to be HIV-infected by PCR and/or viral culture on follow-up. All three infected infants were from a subset whose CBL did not exhibit env-specific TH immunity. Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that fetal T cells can be primed to HIV env determinants in utero, suggest that HIV-specific TH immunity may be protective in newborns, and provide a possible means for identifying newborns who are at risk for HIV infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1427-1433
Number of pages7
JournalAIDS (London, England)
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1993


  • HIV
  • Interleukin-2
  • Mother-to-infant transmission
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Synthetic peptides
  • T lymphocytes
  • Viral cultures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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