HIV-infected people whose immune systems made neutralising antibodies have similar immune alterations, or perturbations, as found in individuals with autoimmune disease, revealed a study.
According to the study published in Journal Science Immunology, the researchers found several key immune differences that should help in the development of a how-to manual for an effective vaccine.
The researchers studied 100 HIV-infected people whose immune systems eventually made antibodies capable of broadly neutralising the virus and half whose immune systems did not.
“This work gives us the beginning of an understanding of the immune mechanisms that control development of broadly neutralizing antibodies, which is a major goal of a successful HIV vaccine,” said Barton F. Haynes, Researcher, Duke Human Vaccine Institute.
In earlier work, the researchers studied a person with both HIV and a form of lupus erythematosus, which is an autoimmune disease. The person’s immune system both controlled the virus and developed broadly neutralising antibodies.
The researchers have hypothesised that the same immune disruptions that caused the person to develop lupus were somehow enabling the broadly neutralizing antibodies to fulfil their potential and fight the virus.
“In essence, HIV cloaks its vulnerable sites that the immune system wants to see by making them resemble our own tissues, thereby creating an environment in which the virus is protected and the beneficial antibodies are treated as a threat to the body”, said Anthony Moody, Researcher,Duke Human Vaccine Institute.
The study suggested that for a broadly neutralising antibody-inducing HIV vaccine to be successful, there will be need to mimic with vaccination the immune perturbations that occur in the setting of HIV infection.