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Protective Antiviral Antibodies that Lack Neutralizing Activity: Precedents and Evolution of Concepts

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Antibody-mediated resistance to viral disease is often attributed solely to neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) despite a body of evidence -- more than 30 years in the making -- to show that other populations of antibodies (protective non-neutralizing antibodies, PnNAbs) can also contribute and are sometimes pivotal in host resistance to viruses. Recently, interest in varieties of PnNAbs has been restored and elevated by an HIV vaccine trial in which virus-specific nNAbs have been highlighted as a positive correlate of immunity. Here, I briefly review some of the historical precedents with many viruses other than HIV, along with the emergence of data over the course of some four decades, pointing emphatically to the importance of subsets of antiviral antibodies that operate by mechanisms other than classical virus neutralization. Foremost among suspected mechanisms of protection by PnNAbs is antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicty (ADCC), but additional mechanisms have sometimes been incriminated or not experimentally excluded. Examples are given for the diversity of proteins and cognate epitopes bound by PnNAbs. Some such epitopes are restricted to virus-infected cell surfaces or found on secreted proteins; others may be associated with virions but unavailable to antibodies during much of the viral cycle; these are epitopes variously described as cryptic, transitional, dynamic, or reversibly masked.
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Keywords: ADCC; antibody; non-neutralizing antibodies; passive immunity; virus

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2013

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  • Current HIV Research aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments of HIV research. We invite comprehensive review articles and novel, pioneering work in the basic and clinical fields on all areas of HIV research, including virus replication and gene expression, HIV assembly, virus-cell interaction, viral pathogenesis, epidemiology and transmission, anti-retroviral therapy and adherence, drug discovery, the latest developments in HIV/AIDS vaccines and animal models, mechanisms and interactions with AIDS related diseases, social and public health issues related to HIV disease, and prevention of viral infection. Each issue of the journal contains a series of timely in-depth reviews and original research written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics on HIV research. Periodically, the journal will invite guest editors to devote an issue on a particular area of HIV research of great interest that increases our understanding of the virus and its complex interaction with the host.
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