Broadly neutralizing antibody responses in a large longitudinal sub-Saharan HIV primary infection cohort

Author Summary Understanding how HIV-1-broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) develop during natural infection is essential to the design of an efficient HIV vaccine. We studied kinetics and correlates of neutralization breadth in a large sub-Saharan African longitudinal cohort of 439 participants with primary HIV-1 infection. Broadly nAb responses developed in 15% of individuals, on average three years after infection. Broad neutralization was associated with high viral load, low CD4+ T cell counts, virus subtype C infection and HLA*A3(-) genotype. A correlation with high overall plasma IgG levels and anti-Env binding titers was also found. Specificity mapping of the bnAb responses showed that glycan-dependent epitopes, in particular the N332 region, were most commonly targeted, in contrast to other bnAb epitopes, suggesting that the HIV Env N332-glycan epitope region may be a favorable target for vaccine design.