People with HIV infections experience a wide range of abnormalities in their immune systems, and one of the most recently discovered abnormalities includes affinity maturation defects within the memory B cells.
B cells produce antibodies in the immune system. Even though these cells do not contract direct HIV infections, people with HIV infections have memory B cells that very rarely produce antibodies that can target and eliminate HIV.
This recent study, published in JCI Insight, demonstrates that this abnormality is due to the affinity maturation defects within the process of the cells. This results in an antibody response that is too flawed to fight off the viral infection.
The research team from Yale University and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) determined that these cell populations as well as antibodies that target HIV are found specifically within people who have HIV infections.
In addition, the memory B cells -- called tissue-like memory cells -- show higher populations than typical memory B cells within HIV-infected blood. These cells demonstrate a low frequency of their somatic hypermutation, and they also have low capacity for generating HIV-neutralizing monoclonal antibodies.
With this research, scientists have gained further insight that is crucial to understanding and resolving an immune dysfunction from HIV infections.