Only a limited HIV subset moves from mother to child, study shows

February 15, 2017 by Enrique Rivero
HIV-1 Virus. Credit: J Roberto Trujillo/Wikipedia

In the transmission of HIV-1 from mother to child only a subset of a mother's viruses infects their infants either in utero or via breastfeeding, and the viruses that are transmitted depend on whether transmission occurs during pregnancy or through breastfeeding, according to UCLA-led research.

Mother-to-child transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type1 poses a serious in developing countries, and more effective interventions are needed. Previous studies determined that strains of HIV that infect both adults and infants almost always use the CCR5 co-receptor for infection and also that that infection is often established by a single viral variant rather than by multiple variants. Additionally, previous studies have shown some of the features of the transmitted viruses.

The researchers isolated viruses from mothers who transmitted HIV to their babies during pregnancy and from mothers who transmitted the virus while breastfeeding. They created hundreds of clones of the envelope, which is the outside portion of the virus that attaches to and infects cells, and then sequenced the envelope regions. The researchers did this to determine how the different regions varied in length and also how many sites they have for the attachment of (HIV coats its envelope with sugar molecules to evade the immune system). They also tested the envelope clones in cell lines in the lab to determine how easily they could infect , how many receptors and co-receptors the clone needs on the outside of cells to infect them, and if their ability to infect the cells could be blocked by neutralizing antibodies.

What they found is that the viruses are generally shorter in specific regions of the virus' envelope, have fewer sugars attached in the envelope and are less likely to be neutralized by CD4 "helper" that are a crucial part of the immune system.

While most cases of mother-to-child transmission of HIV can be prevented by treating mothers and babies with anti-HIV drugs, transmissions still occur. There were an estimated 240,000 transmissions in 2013. This study highlights the need for different strategies to prevent during pregnancy and while . It also provides information into which antibodies may be helpful.

Explore further: Antibody response linked to lower mother-to-child HIV transmission

More information: Kyle J. Nakamura et al. Breast milk and in utero transmission of HIV-1 select for envelope variants with unique molecular signatures, Retrovirology (2017). DOI: 10.1186/s12977-017-0331-z

Related Stories

Antibody response linked to lower mother-to-child HIV transmission

June 8, 2015
How most babies are protected from acquiring HIV from their infected mothers has been a matter of scientific controversy. Now researchers at Duke Medicine provide new data identifying an antibody response that had long been ...

Researchers map Zika's routes to the developing fetus

July 18, 2016
Zika virus can infect numerous cell types in the human placenta and amniotic sac, according to researchers at UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley who show in a new paper how the virus travels from a pregnant woman to her fetus. ...

Role of breast cell infection in flu transmission between mothers and breast-feeding ferrets

October 8, 2015
Influenza is known as an infectious respiratory disease, but a study published on October 8th in PLOS Pathogens suggests that infected cells in breast tissues could play a role in virus transmission from mothers to breast-feeding ...

UN: Women in Zika countries should breastfeed their babies

February 25, 2016
The World Health Organization says women in countries hit by the Zika virus should breastfeed their babies and there is no proof the disease can spread to their infants that way.

Scientists identify potent antibody that neutralizes nearly all HIV strains

November 15, 2016
Scientists from the National Institutes of Health have identified an antibody from an HIV-infected person that potently neutralized 98 percent of HIV isolates tested, including 16 of 20 strains resistant to other antibodies ...

Newly discovered breast milk antibodies help neutralize HIV

May 22, 2012
Antibodies that help to stop the HIV virus have been found in breast milk. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center isolated the antibodies from immune cells called B cells in the breast milk of infected mothers in Malawi, ...

Recommended for you

New injectable antiretroviral treatment proved to be as effective as standard oral therapy

August 3, 2017
Intramuscularly administered antiretroviral therapy (ART) may be as effective for HIV treatment as current oral therapies. This is the main conclusion of a Phase II clinical trial carried out by 50 research centers around ...

Research finds home-based kit would increase HIV testing

July 31, 2017
Research led by William Robinson, PhD, Associate Research Professor of Behavioral & Community Health Sciences at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health, has found that 86% of heterosexuals who are at high risk for ...

Scientists divulge latest in HIV prevention

July 25, 2017
A far cry from the 1990s "ABC" campaign promoting abstinence and monogamy as HIV protection, scientists reported on new approaches Tuesday allowing people to have all the safe sex they want.

Girl's HIV infection seems under control without AIDS drugs

July 24, 2017
A South African girl born with the AIDS virus has kept her infection suppressed for more than eight years after stopping anti-HIV medicines—more evidence that early treatment can occasionally cause a long remission that, ...

Meds by monthly injection might revolutionize HIV care (Update)

July 24, 2017
Getting a shot of medication to control HIV every month or two instead of having to take pills every day could transform the way the virus is kept at bay.

Candidate AIDS vaccine passes early test

July 24, 2017
The three-decade-old quest for an AIDS vaccine received a shot of hope Monday when developers announced that a prototype triggered the immune system in an early phase of human trials.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.