Note: this site last updated in 2006
An article from "The Molecules of HIV" (c) Dan Stowell
Beta-2-microglobulin is a plasma protein shed from activated lymphocytes">lymphocytes. The levels of beta-2-microglobulin in blood serum increase with progressive HIV infection, and have been found to be high in patients with AIDS Dementia Complex. This makes the beta-2-microglobulin assay another possible test to indicate HIV progression.
As the name suggests, beta-2-microglobulin is a small and globular (i.e. roughly spherical) protein. It is found on the surface of most nucleated cells, and associates with class I MHC molecules on the cell surface.
Beta-2-microglobulin was first identified in the 1960s. The following scientific paper, from 1968, is one of the first to describe the protein: