Maternal Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies Can Select for Neutralization-Resistant, Infant-Transmitted/Founder HIV Variants.
Each year, >180,000 infants become infected via mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV despite the availability of effective maternal antiretroviral treatments, underlining the need for a maternal HIV vaccine. We characterized 224 maternal HIV envelope (Env)-specific IgG monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) from seven nontransmitting and transmitting HIV-infected U.S. and Malawian mothers and examined their neutralization activities against nontransmitted autologous circulating viruses and infant-transmitted founder (infant-T/F) viruses. Only a small subset of maternal viruses, 3 of 72 (4%), were weakly neutralized by maternal linear V3 epitope-specific IgG MAbs, whereas 6 out of 6 (100%) infant-T/F viruses were neutralization resistant to these V3-specific IgG MAbs. We also show that maternal-plasma broadly neutralizing antibody (bNAb) responses targeting the V3 glycan supersite in a transmitting woman may have selected for an N332 V3 glycan neutralization-resistant infant-T/F virus. These data have important implications for bNAb-eliciting vaccines and passively administered bNAbs in the setting of MTCT.IMPORTANCE Efforts to eliminate MTCT of HIV with antiretroviral therapy (ART) have met little success, with >180,000 infant infections each year worldwide. It is therefore likely that additional immunologic strategies that can synergize with ART will be required to eliminate MTCT of HIV. To this end, understanding the role of maternal HIV Env-specific IgG antibodies in the setting of MTCT is crucial. In this study, we found that maternal-plasma broadly neutralizing antibody (bNAb) responses can select for T/F viruses that initiate infection in infants. We propose that clinical trials testing the efficacy of single bNAb specificities should not include HIV-infected pregnant women, as a single bNAb might select for neutralization-resistant infant-T/F viruses.
Martinez, David R., Joshua J. Tu, Amit Kumar, Jesse F. Mangold, Riley J. Mangan, Ria Goswami, Elena E. Giorgi, et al. “Maternal Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies Can Select for Neutralization-Resistant, Infant-Transmitted/Founder HIV Variants.” Mbio 11, no. 2 (March 10, 2020). https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.00176-20.