Cloning of HIV-1 env genes from Kenyan women to examine role of neutralizing antibodies in breast milk mother-to-child transmission
Peden, Amber L.
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Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) can occur in utero, during delivery and during breast-feeding (BF). In resource-limited countries BF continues to be the preferred mode of infant feeding resulting in, more than one-third of MTCT cases. Interestingly, two thirds of the infants remain uninfected despite continued exposure to the virus. The mechanism by which these infants are protected remains unclear. Neutralizing antibodies (Nabs) act by blocking the initial virus-target cell interaction and therefore are of great interest to researchers in an effort to develop an effective HIV vaccine. Although antibodies have been detected in breast milk (BM) there has been no detailed study that examines the presence and correlation of levels of Nabs in breast milk with rate of BM transmission. To examine the role of Nabs, we attempted to clone HIV-1 env genes from HIV-1 seropositive mothers in a breastfeeding clinical trial in Nairobi, Kenya with the prospect of examining their neutralization sensitivities in an in vitro neutralization assay.