Circulating memory B cells are severely reduced in the peripheral blood of HIV-1-infected patients.We investigated whether dysfunctional serologic memory to non-HIV antigens is related to disease progression by evaluating the frequency of memory B cells, plasma IgG, plasma levels of antibodies to measles, and Streptococcus pneumoniae, and enumerating measles-specific antibody-secreting cells in patients with primary, chronic, and long-term nonprogressive HIV-1 infection. We also evaluated the in vitro production of IgM and IgG antibodies against measles and S pneumoniae antigens following polyclonal activation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from patients. The percentage of memory B cells correlated with CD4+ T-cell counts in patients, thus representing a marker of disease progression. While patients with primary and chronic infection had severe defects in serologic memory, long-term nonprogressors had memory B-cell frequency and levels of antigen-specific antibodies comparable with controls. We also evaluated the effect of antiretroviral therapy on these serologic memory defects and found that antiretroviral therapy did not restore serologic memory in primary or in chronic infection. We suggest that HIV infection impairs maintenance of long-term serologic immunity to HIV-1-unrelated antigens and this defect is initiated early in infection. This may have important consequences for the response of HIV-infected patients to immunizations.
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