Protective antibodies play a critical role in an effective HIV vaccine; however, eliciting antibodies to block infection by viruses from diverse genetic subtypes remains a major challenge. As the world's most populous country, China has been under the threat of at least three major subtypes of circulating HIV-1 viruses. Understanding the cross reactivity and specificities of serum antibody responses that mediate broad neutralization of the virus in HIV-1 infected Chinese patients will provide valuable information for the design of vaccines to prevent HIV-1 transmission in China. Sera from a cohort of homosexual men, who have been managed by a major HIV clinical center in Beijing, China, were analyzed for cross-sectional neutralizing activities against pseudotyped viruses expressing Env antigens of the major subtype viruses (AE, BC and B subtypes) circulating in China. Neutralizing activities in infected patients' blood were most capable of neutralizing viruses in the homologous subtype; however, a subset of blood samples was able to achieve broad neutralizing activities across different subtypes. Such cross neutralizing activity took 1-2 years to develop and CD4 binding site antibodies were critical components in these blood samples. Our study confirmed the presence of broadly neutralizing sera in China's HIV-1 patient population. Understanding the specificity and breadth of these neutralizing activities can guide efforts for the development of HIV vaccines against major HIV-1 viruses in China.
Zhang, M., Jiao, Y., Wang, S., Zhang, L., Huang, Z., Chen, Y., … Lu, S. (2012). Serum Neutralizing Activities from a Beijing Homosexual Male Cohort Infected with Different Subtypes of HIV-1 in China. PLoS ONE, 7(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0047548