The etiology of the lymphadenopathy and follicular hyperplasia associated with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection has remained unclear. To determine whether the B-lymphocyte expansions characteristic of this syndrome represent polyclonal and virus-specific processes, the antigen specificity of B cells in lymphoid tissues of monkeys infected with simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) chimeras was assessed using an inverse immunohistochemical assay with biotinylated HIV-1 envelope gp120 (Env) as an antigen probe. Env-binding B cells were found aggregated in lymph node and splenic germinal centers (GCs). Most Env-binding GCs also contained an unstained population of B cells, suggesting the GCs were formed by a polyclonal (oligoclonal) process. By day 42 following infection, Env-binding B cells were present in 19% of all lymph node GCs. Env-binding cells were present in 25% of GCs even during chronic infection. This extraordinarily high frequency of Env-specific B lymphocytes suggests that the expansion of virus-specific B cells may largely account for the follicular hyperplasia in AIDS virus-infected individuals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science