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The Role of Mucosal Immunity in Prevention of HIV Transmission

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Vaccines designed to prevent mucosal transmission of HIV should establish multiple immune effectors in vaccine recipients, including antibodies which are capable of blocking HIV entry at mucosal epithelial barriers and of preventing initial infection of target cells in the mucosa. Immunological analyses of HIV-resistant humans and data obtained in nonhuman primate vaccine studies indicate that both secretory and serum antibodies may play an important role in protection against mucosal transmission of HIV or SIV, whereas cytotoxic T cells are required for clearance of mucosal infection and prevention of systemic spread. This review summarizes the roles of IgA and IgG antibodies in preventing mucosal infection by other viral and bacterial pathogens, and then discusses the various mechanisms by which antibodies might contribute to protection against HIV at mucosal surfaces. These include prevention of mucosal contact, blocking attachment of virus or infected cells to epithelial cells, interception of virus during transepithelial transport, neutralization of virus in the mucosa, and elimination of locally infected cells through antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxic reactions. The regional nature of mucosal immune responses is reviewed in light of its relevance to HIV vaccine development. We conclude that mucosal immunization should be considered a component of vaccine strategies against HIV.

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Keywords: Igg antibodies; cytotoxic reactions; cytotoxic t cells; hiv transmission; hiv vaccine; hiv-resistant; mucosal immunity; mucosal infection; vaccine recipients

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: 2003-05-01

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  • Current Molecular Medicine is an interdisciplinary journal focused on providing the readership with current and comprehensive reviews on fundamental molecular mechanisms of disease pathogenesis, the development of molecular-diagnosis and/or novel approaches to rational treatment. The reviews should be of significant interest to basic researchers and clinical investigators in molecular medicine. Periodically the journal will invite guest editors to devote an issue on a basic research area that shows promise to advance our understanding of the molecular mechanism(s) of a disease or has potential for clinical applications.
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