Comparison of p24 measurement by ELISA versus indicator cells for detecting residual HIV infectivity in vitro

Georges Herbein*, Peter Illei, Luis J. Montaner, William James, Siamon Gordon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

3 Scopus citations


Inactivation of HIV-1 contaminated materials or biological samples is of great importance and requires the use of a reliable assay to detect residual infectivity. In this study we treated cell-free or cell-associated (monocyte- derived macrophages) HIV-1 with two chemicals known for their antiviral activities, β-propiolactone (βPL) and formaldehyde (FO), and tested it for the presence of residual infectivity. HIV-1 infected primary monocyte- derived macrophages (MDM) or cell-free HIV-1 were fixed with increasing concentrations of either βPL or FO for 1 day at 4°C. Then either fresh primary MDM or fresh medium was added, and the supernatant p24 levels were assayed up to 12 days after infection. All the supernatants harvested were added to indicator cells, fresh primary MDM, to assess for residual infectivity. The results show that p24 measurement is not a reliable assay for the detection of residual infectious virions after chemical fixation of HIV-infected primary MDM. In contrast, the use of indicator primary cells (MDM) is a much more sensitive and reliable assay. By performing an indicator cell assay we showed that FO efficiently inactivates cell-associated and cell-free HIV-1 at concentrations as low as 1% v/v. In contrast βPL is more efficient in inactivating cell-free than cell-associated virus and does not inactivate cell-associated HIV-1 at concentrations as high as 1% v/v.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-173
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Virological Methods
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 26 04 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Formaldehyde
  • HIV, β propiolactone
  • Indicator cells
  • Residual infectivity
  • p24


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