Background: Non-neutralising antibodies to the envelope glycoprotein are elicited during acute HIV-1 infection and are abundant throughout the course of disease progression. Although these antibodies appear to have negligible effects on HIV-1 infection when assayed in standard neutralisation assays, they have the potential to exert either inhibitory or enhancing effects through interactions with complement and/or Fc receptors. Here we report that non-neutralising antibodies produced early in response to HIV-1 infection can enhance viral infectivity.Results: We investigated this complement-mediated antibody-dependent enhancement (C'-ADE) of early HIV infection by carrying out longitudinal studies with primary viruses and autologous sera derived sequentially from recently infected individuals, using a T cell line naturally expressing the complement receptor 2 (CR2; CD21). The C'-ADE was consistently observed and in some cases achieved infection-enhancing levels of greater than 350-fold, converting a low-level infection to a highly destructive one. C'-ADE activity declined as a neutralising response to the early virus emerged, but later virus isolates that had escaped the neutralising response demonstrated an increased capacity for enhanced infection by autologous antibodies. Moreover, sera with autologous enhancing activity were capable of C'ADE of heterologous viral isolates, suggesting the targeting of conserved epitopes on the envelope glycoprotein. Ectopic expression of CR2 on cell lines expressing HIV-1 receptors was sufficient to render them sensitive to C'ADE.Conclusions: Taken together, these results suggest that non-neutralising antibodies to the HIV-1 envelope that arise during acute infection are not 'passive', but in concert with complement and complement receptors may have consequences for HIV-1 dissemination and pathogenesis. © 2011 Willey et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Willey, S., Aasa-Chapman, M. M. I., O’Farrell, S., Pellegrino, P., Williams, I., Weiss, R. A., & Neil, S. J. D. (2011). Extensive complement-dependent enhancement of HIV-1 by autologous non-neutralising antibodies at early stages of infection. Retrovirology, 8. https://doi.org/10.1186/1742-4690-8-16