Unconventional immune responses have been demonstrated in individuals who, despite repeated exposure to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, remain seronegative. As environmental exposure to pathogens and genetic background may modulate immune responses differentially, one Italian and two Asian populations of HIV-1 -exposed seronegative individuals were studied. In serum samples from each group, IgG to CCR5, IgG to CD4 and IgA to gp41 were measured, which were previously described as markers of unconventional immunity in HIV-exposed seronegative Caucasians. Given the importance of conformational epitopes in virus-cell interactions, IgG to CD4-gp120 complex was also measured. It was found that markers of HIV exposure were present in all populations studied. HIV-specific humoral responses (IgA to gp41 and IgG to CD4-gp120 complex) were extremely significant predictors of HIV exposure (P<0.0001 in both cases), whereas the predictive values of anti-cell antibodies (anti-CCR5 and anti-CD4) varied between populations. Evidence is provided for the correlation of these differences with route of exposure to HIV and level of natural antibodies to cross-reactive microbial antigens. In conclusion, exposed seronegative individuals of ethnically different origins display similar signs of HIV-dependent unconventional immunity. A specific relevance must be attributed to different innate and acquired factors.
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