We observed and characterized paraproteins present in the serum of seven human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-infected individuals. Immunoglobulin (Ig) subclass typing performed on these paraproteins identified five as IgG1 kappa, one as an IgG3 lambda, and one as an IgA lambda. The IgG1 kappa paraproteins, purified by high-pressure liquid chromatography, contained the majority of anti-HIV-1 antibody reactivity present in the five serum specimens (ranging from 1:5,000 to 1:500,000) as demonstrated by immunoblot. All five IgG1 paraproteins had at least two light chain species as demonstrated by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), and the antibodies were reactive with multiple HIV-1 viral antigens. In contrast, the electrophoretically purified IgG3 lambda and IgA lambda paraproteins did not react with HIV-1 antigens and only one light chain species was detected by SDS-PAGE. The subsequent clinical evaluation of these patients following the initial observation of paraproteinemias failed to correlate the presence of paraproteins with the development of lymphoma over a 2 to 3 year period. These data support the hypothesis that IgG1 paraproteins present in the sera of HIV-1 infected individuals reflect a normal albeit exuberant polyclonal immune response to HIV-1 viral antigens. In contrast, the clinical significance of an IgG3 lambda or an IgA lambda paraprotein is unclear at present.

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