Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Immunology and Microbiology



First Thesis Advisor

John L. Sullivan, M.D.


HIV-1, Disease Transmission, Vertical, T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, Infant, Newborn, Diseases


High frequencies of CTL recognizing laboratory strains of HIV-1 are present in HIV-1 infected adults as early as preseroconversion. The presence of HIV-1 specific CTL during primary infection has been correlated with better control of early viremia and a more delayed onset of CD4 lymphocyte loss. Previous experiments in our laboratory have demonstrated that, unlike HIV-1 infected adults, the majority of vertically infected infants lack CTL which recognize laboratory strains of HIV-1 within the first year of life. ADCC antibody responses against laboratory strains of HIV-1 env gene products are also delayed until at least two years of age. As a possible correlate, disease progression is also more rapid in vertically infected infants.

We hypothesized that HIV-1-specific CTL are type-specific in early infancy and that the use of target cells expressing laboratory strain gene products might limit the detection of HIV-1-specific CTL. To address this hypothesis, HIV-1 env genes from early isolates of four infants were PCR amplified, cloned, and used to generate recombinant vaccinia vectors (vv). The frequencies of CTL precursors (CTLp) recognizing env gene products from autologous isolates and the IIIB strain of HIV-1 were measured at time points from early infancy to 19 months using limiting dilution analysis (LDA). ADCC titers were also measured against autologous and IIIB env gene products at 4 time points spanning 2 months to 2 years of age.

CTL precursors from 3 of 4 of these patients were specific only for autologous HIV-1 env gene products during the first 6 to 12 months of age. A pattern of CTL responsiveness was observed in these 3 patients in which type-specific CTL precursors observed in early infancy were replaced by cross-reactive, group-specific CTL by 6 to 12 months of age. CTL precursors from a fourth patient at 12 months of age recognized IIIB env and 1 out of 2 envs derived from 2 autologous viral isolates.

High titers titers of ADCC antibodies against autologous env were detected in two infants prior to the detection of ADCC antibodies to IIIB. In two other infants, group specific ADCC antibody responses were detected in late infancy.

Our results demonstrate that young infants can mount HIV-1 specific CTL and ADCC responses. The ability of young infants to mount cellular immune responses to HIV-1 also provides support for the concept of perinatal vaccination to prevent HIV-1 transmission. Furthermore. the lack of broadly-reactive CTL in early infancy suggests that the use of vaccines based on laboratory strains of HIV-1 may not afford protection from vertical infection.


Some images did not scan well. Please see print version for those images.



Rights and Permissions

Copyright is held by the author, with all rights reserved.