Impaired neutralizing activity by transplacental measles antibodies in infants born to HIV-1-infected mothers


L Smedman, Assoc. Professor, Inst f Kvinnors o Barns Hälsa; Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset Solna, H2:00; SE-17176 Stockholm, Sweden. Tel: +46 8 51777383 | Fax: +46 8 51777378 |


Aim:  Growing numbers of newborns are saved from HIV infection through increased access to mother-to-child transmission prevention programmes. The maternally derived humoral immunity of these children might be impaired, both in terms of quantity and in terms of quality, with consequences for the timing of immunization against measles.

Methods:  A cell-ELISA technique compared the neutralizing activity on Edmonston strain measles virus of sera from 1- to 4-month-old infants. Ten serum specimens came from noninfected infants of HIV-infected mothers and another 10 from infants of healthy mothers. The sera were matched for the level of conventional ELISA measles antibodies.

Results:  Reflecting infection of the Vero cells by non-neutralized virus, optical density values were significantly higher for the sera from the children of the HIV-infected mothers than for those of the noninfected mothers (p < 0.001).

Conclusion:  Maternally derived protection against measles may be impaired by the mother’s HIV infection, relating to the quality rather than to the quantity of transplacental antibodies. Selective, early immunization with live attenuated measles vaccine should be evaluated in noninfected children of HIV-1-infected mothers.