Different HIV-1 antigen specificities appear in sequence after HIV-1 transmission and the immunoglobulin G (IgG) subclass responses to HIV antigens are distinct from each other. The initial predominant IgG subclass response to HIV-1 infection consists of IgG1 and IgG3 antibodies with a noted decline in some IgG3 antibodies during acute HIV-1 infection. Thus, we postulate that multiple antigen-specific IgG3 responses may serve as surrogates for the relative time since HIV-1 acquisition.
We determined the magnitude, peak, and half-life of HIV-1 antigen-specific IgG1 and IgG3 antibodies in 41 HIV-1-infected individuals followed longitudinally from acute infection during the first appearance of HIV-1-specific antibodies through approximately 6 months after infection.
We used quantitative HIV-1-binding antibody multiplex assays and exponential decay models to estimate concentrations of IgG1 and IgG3 antibodies to eight different HIV-1 proteins including gp140 Env, gp120 Env, gp41 Env, p66 reverse transcriptase, p31 Integrase, Tat, Nef, and p55 Gag proteins during acute/recent HIV-1 infection.
Among HIV-1-specific IgG3 responses, anti-gp41 IgG3 antibodies were the first to appear. We found that anti-gp41 Env IgG3 and anti-p66 reverse transcriptase IgG3 antibodies, in addition to anti-Gag IgG3 antibodies, each consistently and measurably declined after acute infection, in contrast to the persistent antigen-specific IgG1 responses.
The detailed measurements of the decline in multiple HIV-specific IgG3 responses simultaneous with persistent IgG1 responses during acute and recent HIV-1 infection could serve as markers for detection of incident HIV infection.