HIV Vaccine Development Advances

Research analyzes HIV-positive individuals who naturally produce broadly neutralizing antibodies.

A recent study found immunological differences between HIV-positive individuals who naturally produce broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) and those who do not.

For the study, conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, researchers collected blood samples from HIV patients by the NIAID-supported Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology.

Blood samples from 51 individuals with the highest levels of bNAbs were compared with samples from 51 individuals with few or no bNAbs present. The results of the analysis showed that many variations in the immune cell function triggered by chronic HIV was associated with high levels of bNAbs.

The most specific changes included a higher frequency of autoantibodies, fewer immune regulatory T cells, and a higher frequency of memory T follicular helper immune cells.

Using this immune system configuration, the activity of B cells may be less restricted because they are supported by T follicular helper cells, and hindered by regulatory T cells, which could lead to more efficient production of protective bNAbs against HIV, according to the study.

The findings help support developmental approaches for an HIV vaccine that modifies a person’s own immune system to mimic these conditions through the addition of adjuvants or other means.