The aim of this proposal is to study the biological mechanism of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV using samples already collected from a well-characterized cohort of 860 HIV(+) pregnant Malawian women and their offspring. We hypothesize that: 1) the risk of MTCT is increased as a result of increased maternal-fetal microtransfusion, 2) maternal HIV diversity is a risk factor for MTCT, 3) heteroduplex tracking assays can be used to distinguish infants infected with HIV parenterally versus infants infected through mucosal membranes and 4) HIV is transmitted to infants through cell-associated virus. In a preliminary study, we measured placental alkaline phosphatase (PLAP), a placenta-impermeable high-molecular weight enzyme, in umbilical serum as a marker for maternal-fetal microtransfusion. In a nested case-cohort study of 204 mother-child pairs, elevated umbilical PLAP was found to be is a risk factor for intrapartum, but not intrauterine MTCT. Our first specific aim is to extend these observations by a) measuring PLAP in the umbilical cord sera from the full cohort, and b) developing and using a second method for maternal fetal microtransfusion based on genetic polymorphisms. In the second aim we will document maternal and infant viral diversity using heteroduplex tracking assays and assess the correlation between maternal diversity and MTCT; furthermore, we will use the infant HIV population diversity data, along with the data from Specific Aim 1, to determine if infant infections are a result of a mucosal exposure or direct inoculation via maternal contamination of fetal circulation. In the third Aim we will compare the profiles of maternal, umbilical and neonatal plasma^ and cell-associated virus to determine the relative importance of the two compartments to transmission. Thus, the results of this project will suggest a comprehensive model of the vector, the route, and the maternal factors associated with HIV vertical transmission.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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AIDS Clinical Studies and Epidemiology Study Section (ACE)
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Finzi, Diana
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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
Chapel Hill
United States
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Kumar, Surender B; Handelman, Samuel K; Voronkin, Igor et al. (2011) Different regions of HIV-1 subtype C env are associated with placental localization and in utero mother-to-child transmission. J Virol 85:7142-52
Kwiek, Jesse J; Mwapasa, Victor; Alker, Alisa P et al. (2008) Socio-demographic characteristics associated with HIV and syphilis seroreactivity among pregnant women in Blantyre, Malawi, 2000-2004. Malawi Med J 20:80-5
Kwiek, Jesse J; Russell, Elizabeth S; Dang, Kristen K et al. (2008) The molecular epidemiology of HIV-1 envelope diversity during HIV-1 subtype C vertical transmission in Malawian mother-infant pairs. AIDS 22:863-71
Kwiek, Jesse J; Arney, Leslie A; Harawa, Visopo et al. (2008) Maternal-fetal DNA admixture is associated with intrapartum mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1 in Blantyre, Malawi. J Infect Dis 197:1378-81
Kwiek, Jesse J; Mwapasa, Victor; Milner Jr, Danny A et al. (2006) Maternal-fetal microtransfusions and HIV-1 mother-to-child transmission in Malawi. PLoS Med 3:e10