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1.  Breast Milk α-Defensins Are Associated with HIV Type 1 RNA and CC Chemokines in Breast Milk But Not Vertical HIV Type 1 Transmission 
α-Defensins are proteins exhibiting in vitro anti-HIV-1 activity that may protect against mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1 via breast milk. Correlates of α-defensins in breast milk and transmission risk were determined in a cohort of HIV-1-infected pregnant women in Nairobi followed for 12 months postpartum with their infants. Maternal blood was collected antenatally and at delivery for HIV-1 viral load and infant HIV-1 infection status was determined <48 h after birth and at months 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12. Breast milk specimens collected at month 1 were assayed for α-defensins, HIV-1 RNA, subclinical mastitis, and CC and CXC chemokines. We detected α-defensins in breast milk specimens from 108 (42%) of 260 HIV-1-infected women. Women with detectable α-defensins (≥50 pg/ml) had a median concentration of 320 pg/ml and significantly higher mean breast milk HIV-1 RNA levels than women with undetectable α-defensins (2.9 log10 copies/ml versus 2.5 log10 copies/ml, p = 0.003). Increased α-defensins concentrations in breast milk were also associated with subclinical mastitis (Na+/K+ ratio > 1) and increased breast milk chemokine levels. Overall, 40 (15%) infants were HIV-1 uninfected at birth and subsequently acquired HIV-1. There was no significant association between month 1 α-defensins and risk of HIV-1 transmission. In conclusion, α-defensins were associated with breast milk HIV-1 viral load, chemokine levels, and subclinical mastitis, all of which may alter risk of infant HIV-1 acquisition. Despite these associations there was no significant relationship between breast milk α-defensins and mother-to-child transmission, suggesting a complex interplay between breast milk HIV-1, inflammation, and antiinfective factors.
PMCID: PMC3382116  PMID: 17331027
2.  The Breadth and Potency of Passively Acquired Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1-Specific Neutralizing Antibodies Do Not Correlate with the Risk of Infant Infection▿ 
Journal of Virology  2011;85(11):5252-5261.
Although a major goal of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccine efforts is to elicit broad and potent neutralizing antibodies (NAbs), there are no data that directly demonstrate a role for such NAbs in protection from HIV-1 infection in exposed humans. The setting of mother-to-child transmission provides an opportunity to examine whether NAbs provide protection from HIV-1 infection because infants acquire passive antibodies from their mothers prior to exposure to HIV-1 through breastfeeding. We evaluated the characteristics of HIV-1-specific NAbs in 100 breast-fed infants of HIV-1-positive mothers who were HIV-1 negative at birth and monitored them until age 2. A panel of eight viruses that included variants representative of those in the study region as well as more diverse strains was used to determine the breadth of the infant NAbs. From their mothers, infants acquired broad and potent NAbs that were capable of recognizing heterologous circulating HIV-1 variants of diverse subtypes, but the presence of NAbs of broad HIV-1 specificity was not associated with transmission risk. There was also no correlation between responses to any particular virus tested, which included a range of diverse variants that demonstrated different neutralization profiles, including recognition by specific antibodies with known epitope targets. The eight viruses tested exhibited neutralization profiles to a variety of monoclonal antibodies (2F5, PG9, and VRC01) similar to those of viruses present in pregnant women in the cohort. These results suggest that the breadth and potency of the heterologous antibody response in exposed infants, measured against a virus panel comprised of variants typical of those circulating in the population, does not predict protection.
PMCID: PMC3094986  PMID: 21411521
3.  CCR5, RANTES, and SDF-1 polymorphisms and mother-to-child HIV-1 transmission 
Among 288 HIV-1-infected, breastfeeding women who received zidovudine prophylaxis and were followed with their infants in Nairobi, we found no associations between maternal genetic polymorphisms in CCR5 (59029G/A, 59353T/C, 59356T/C, 59402G/A), RANTES (−403G/A), and SDF-1 (3′801G/A) and mother-to-child HIV-1 transmission; plasma, cervical, and breastmilk viral loads; or breastmilk chemokine concentrations.
PMCID: PMC2922909  PMID: 20518834
chemokines; CCR5; RANTES; SDF-1; HIV-1 transmission
4.  Lower Risk of Resistance After Short-Course HAART Compared With Zidovudine/Single-Dose Nevirapine Used for Prevention of HIV-1 Mother-to-Child Transmission 
Antiretroviral resistance after short-course regimens used to prevent mother-to-child transmission has consequences for later treatment. Directly comparing the prevalence of resistance after short-course regimens of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and zidovudine plus single-dose nevirapine (ZDV/sdNVP) will provide critical information when assessing the relative merits of these antiretroviral interventions.
In a clinical trial in Kenya, pregnant women were randomized to receive either ZDV/sdNVP or a short-course of HAART through 6 months of breastfeeding. Plasma samples were collected 3–12 months after treatment cessation, and resistance to reverse transcriptase inhibitors was assessed using both a sequencing assay and highly sensitive allele-specific polymerase chain reaction assays.
No mutations associated with resistance were detectable by sequencing in either the ZDV/sdNVP or HAART arms at 3 months posttreatment, indicating that resistant viruses were not present in >20% of virus. Using allele-specific polymerase chain reaction assays for K103N and Y181C, we detected low levels of resistant virus in 75% of women treated with ZDV/sdNVP and only 18% of women treated with HAART (P = 0.007). Y181C was more prevalent than K103N at 3 months and showed little evidence of decay by 12 months.
Our finding provides evidence that compared with ZDV/sdNVP, HAART reduces but does not eliminate nevirapine resistance.
PMCID: PMC2765911  PMID: 19502990
antiretroviral resistance; HIV; HAART; mother-to-child transmission; prophylaxis

Results 1-5 (5)