Preexisting immunity to adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5) diminishes immune responses to vaccines using Ad5 as a vector. Alternate Ad serotypes as vaccine vectors might overcome Ad5-specific neutralizing antibodies and enhance immune responses in populations with a high prevalence of Ad5 immunity. To test this hypothesis, healthy human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-seronegative adults were enrolled in a blinded, randomized, dose-escalating, placebo-controlled study. In part A, subjects with baseline Ad6 titers of ≤18 received the Merck Ad6 (MRKAd6) HIV type 1 (HIV-1) trigene vaccine at weeks 0, 4, and 26. In part B, subjects stratified by Ad5 titers (≤200 or >200) and Ad6 titers (≤18 or >18) received the MRKAd5-plus-MRKAd6 (MRKAd5+6) HIV-1 trigene vaccine at weeks 0, 4, and 26. Immunogenicity was assessed by an enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay at week 30. No serious adverse events occurred. MRKAd6 trigene vaccine recipients responded more often to Nef than to Gag or Pol. In part A, ELISPOT response rates to ≥2 vaccine antigens were 14%, 63%, and 71% at 109, 1010, and 1011 viral genomes (vg)/dose, respectively. All responders had positive Nef-specific ELISPOT results. In part B, Nef-ELISPOT response rates at 1010 vg/dose of the MRKAd5+6 trigene vaccine were 50% in the low-Ad5/low-Ad6 stratum (n = 8), 78% in the low-Ad5/high-Ad6 stratum (n = 9), 75% in the high-Ad5/low-Ad6 stratum (n = 8), and 44% in the high-Ad5/high-Ad6 stratum (n = 9). The MRKAd6 and MRKAd5+6 trigene vaccines elicited dose-dependent responses predominantly to Nef and were generally well tolerated, indicating that Ad6 should be considered a candidate vector for future vaccines. Although small sample sizes limit the conclusions that can be drawn from this exploratory study, combining two Ad vectors may be a useful vaccine strategy for circumventing isolated immunity to a single Ad serotype.
Vaccines inducing pathogen-specific cell-mediated immunity are being developed using attenuated adenoviral (Ad) vectors. We report the results of two independent Phase I trials of similar replication-deficient Ad5 vaccines containing a near-consensus HIV-1 clade B gag transgene. Healthy HIV-uninfected adults were enrolled in two separate, multicenter, dose-escalating, blinded, placebo-controlled studies to assess the safety and immunogenicity of a three-dose homologous regimen of Ad5 and MRKAd5 HIV-1 gag vaccines given on day 1, week 4, and week 26. Adverse events were collected for 29 days following each intradeltoid injection. The primary immunogenicity endpoint was the proportion of subjects with a positive unfractionated Gag-specific IFN-γ ELISPOT response measured 4 weeks after the last dose (week 30). Analyses were performed after combining data for each dose group from both protocols, stratifying by baseline Ad5 titers. Overall, 252 subjects were randomized to receive either vaccine or placebo, including 229 subjects (91%) who completed the study through week 30. Tolerability and immunogenicity did not appear to differ between the Ad5 and MRKAd5 vaccines. The frequency of injection-site reactions was dose dependent. Systemic adverse events were also dose dependent and more frequent in subjects with baseline Ad5 titers <200 versus ≥200, especially after the first dose. The percent of ELISPOT responders and the ELISPOT geometric means overall were significantly higher for all four vaccine doses studied compared to placebo, and were generally higher in vaccine recipients with baseline Ad5 titers <200 versus ≥200. Ad5 titers increased after vaccination in a dose-dependent fashion. Both Ad5-vectored HIV-1 vaccines were generally well tolerated and induced cell-mediated immune responses against HIV Gag-peptides in the majority of healthy adults with baseline Ad5 titers <200. Preexistent and/or vaccine-induced immunity to the Ad5 vector may dampen the CMI response to HIV Gag.
We conducted a phase I, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to assess the safety and immunogenicity of escalating doses of two recombinant replication defective adenovirus serotype 35 (Ad35) vectors containing gag, reverse transcriptase, integrase and nef (Ad35-GRIN) and env (Ad35-ENV), both derived from HIV-1 subtype A isolates. The trial enrolled 56 healthy HIV-uninfected adults.
Ad35-GRIN/ENV (Ad35-GRIN and Ad35-ENV mixed in the same vial in equal proportions) or Ad35-GRIN was administered intramuscularly at 0 and 6 months. Participants were randomized to receive either vaccine or placebo (10/4 per group, respectively) within one of four dosage groups: Ad35-GRIN/ENV 2×109 (A), 2×1010 (B), 2×1011 (C), or Ad35-GRIN 1×1010 (D) viral particles.
No vaccine-related serious adverse event was reported. Reactogenicity events reported were dose-dependent, mostly mild or moderate, some severe in Group C volunteers, all transient and resolving spontaneously. IFN-γ ELISPOT responses to any vaccine antigen were detected in 50, 56, 70 and 90% after the first vaccination, and in 75, 100, 88 and 86% of Groups A–D vaccine recipients after the second vaccination, respectively. The median spot forming cells (SFC) per 106 PBMC to any antigen was 78–139 across Groups A–C and 158–174 in Group D, after each of the vaccinations with a maximum of 2991 SFC. Four to five HIV proteins were commonly recognized across all the groups and over multiple timepoints. CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses were polyfunctional. Env antibodies were detected in all Group A–C vaccinees and Gag antibodies in most vaccinees after the second immunization. Ad35 neutralizing titers remained low after the second vaccination.
Ad35-GRIN/ENV reactogenicity was dose-related. HIV-specific cellular and humoral responses were seen in the majority of volunteers immunized with Ad35-GRIN/ENV or Ad35-GRIN and increased after the second vaccination. T-cell responses were broad and polyfunctional.
In the Step Study, the MRKAd5 HIV-1 gag/pol/nef vaccine did not lower post-infection plasma viremia, and HIV-1 incidence was higher in vaccine-treated than placebo-treated males with pre-existing adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5) immunity. We evaluated vaccine-induced immunity and its potential contributions to infection risk.
To assess immunogenicity, HIV-specific T-cells were characterized ex vivo using validated IFN-γ ELISpot and intracellular cytokine staining (ICS) assays, employing a case-cohort design. To determine effects of vaccine and pre-existing Ad5 immunity on infection risk, flow cytometric studies measured Ad5-specific T-cells and circulating activated (Ki67+/Bcl- 2lo) CD4+ T-cells expressing CCR5.
IFN-γ-secreting HIV-specific T-cells (range, 163–686/106 PBMC) were detected ex vivo by ELISpot in 77% (258/354) of vaccinees; the majority recognized 2–3 HIV proteins. HIV- specific CD4+ T-cells were identified by ICS in 41%; ~85% expressed IL-2, and two-thirds of these co-expressed IFN-γ and/or TNF-α. HIV-specific CD8+ T-cells (range, 0.4–1.0%) were observed in 73%, expressing predominantly either IFN-γ alone or with TNF-α. No major differences were found in vaccine-induced HIV-specific immunity, including response rate, magnitude, and cytokine profile comparing vaccinated male cases (pre-infection) with non-cases. Interestingly, Ad5-specific T-cells were lower in cases than non-cases in several subgroup analyses. The percent circulating Ki67+Bcl-2lo/CCR5+ CD4+ T-cells did not differ between cases and non-cases.
Consistent with previous trials, the MrkAd5/HIV-1 gag/pol/nef vaccine was highly immunogenic for inducing HIV-specific CD8+ T-cells. Comparative analyses did not reveal differences in HIV-specific immunologic responses between cases and non-cases that explain the lack of vaccine efficacy and potential infection enhancement. If T-cell immunity is critical in vaccine-induced HIV protection, our findings suggest that future candidate vaccines must elicit responses that either exceed in magnitude or differ in breadth and/or function from those observed in this trial.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, U.S. National Institute of Health; Merck Research Laboratories
Background. We report the first-in-human safety and immunogenicity assessment of a prototype Ad26 vector-based human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine in humans.
Methods. Sixty Ad26-seronegative, healthy, HIV-uninfected subjects were enrolled in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, dose-escalation phase 1 study. Five groups of 12 subjects received 109–1011 vp of the Ad26-EnvA vaccine (N = 10/group) or placebo (N = 2/group) at weeks 0 and 24 or weeks 0, 4, and 24. Safety and immunogenicity were assessed.
Results. Self-limited reactogenicity was observed after the initial immunization at the highest (1011 vp) dose. No product-related SAEs were observed. All subjects who received the Ad26-EnvA vaccine developed Ad26 NAb titers, EnvA-specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) titers, and EnvA-specific enzyme-linked immunospot assays (ELISPOT) responses. These responses persisted at week 52. At week 28 in the 109, 1010, 1011 vp 3-dose and the 1010 and 5 × 1010 vp 2-dose groups, geometric mean EnvA ELISA titers were 6113, 12 470, 8545, 3470, and 9655 and mean EnvA ELISPOT responses were 397, 178, 736, 196, and 1311 SFC/106 peripheral blood mononuclear cells, respectively.
Conclusion. This Ad26 vectored vaccine was generally safe and immunogenic at all doses tested. Reactogenicity was minimal with doses of 5 × 1010 vp or less. Ad26 is a promising new vaccine vector for HIV-1.
Clinical Trials Registration. NCT00618605.
HIV Vaccine; Adenovirus 26; Safety; Immunogenicity; Dose-escalation
We conducted a Phase I randomized, dose-escalation, route-comparison trial of MVA-CMDR, a candidate HIV-1 vaccine based on a recombinant modified vaccinia Ankara viral vector expressing HIV-1 genes env/gag/pol. The HIV sequences were derived from circulating recombinant form CRF01_AE, which predominates in Thailand. The objective was to evaluate safety and immunogenicity of MVA-CMDR in human volunteers in the US and Thailand.
MVA-CMDR or placebo was administered intra-muscularly (IM; 107 or 108 pfu) or intradermally (ID; 106 or 107 pfu) at months 0, 1 and 3, to 48 healthy volunteers at low risk for HIV-1 infection. Twelve volunteers in each dosage group were randomized to receive MVA-CMDR or placebo (10∶2). Volunteers were actively monitored for local and systemic reactogenicity and adverse events post vaccination. Cellular immunogenicity was assessed by a validated IFNγ Elispot assay, an intracellular cytokine staining assay, lymphocyte proliferation and a 51Cr-release assay. Humoral immunogenicity was assessed by ADCC for gp120 and binding antibody ELISAs for gp120 and p24. MVA-CMDR was safe and well tolerated with no vaccine related serious adverse events. Cell-mediated immune responses were: (i) moderate in magnitude (median IFNγ Elispot of 78 SFC/106 PBMC at 108 pfu IM), but high in response rate (70% 51Cr-release positive; 90% Elispot positive; 100% ICS positive, at 108 pfu IM); (ii) predominantly HIV Env-specific CD4+ T cells, with a high proliferative capacity and durable for at least 6 months (100% LPA response rate by the IM route); (iv) dose- and route-dependent with 108 pfu IM being the most immunogenic treatment. Binding antibodies against gp120 and p24 were detectable in all vaccination groups with ADCC capacity detectable at the highest dose (40% positive at 108 pfu IM).
MVA-CMDR delivered both intramuscularly and intradermally was safe, well-tolerated and elicited durable cell-mediated and humoral immune responses.
HIV Gag-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses are important for HIV immune control. Pulsing overlapping Gag peptides on autologous lymphocytes (OPAL) has proven immunogenic and effective in reducing viral loads in multiple pigtail macaque studies, warranting clinical evaluation.
We performed a phase I, single centre, placebo-controlled, double-blinded and dose-escalating study to evaluate the safety and preliminary immunogenicity of a novel therapeutic vaccine approach ‘OPAL-HIV-Gag(c)’. This vaccine is comprised of 120 15mer peptides, overlapping by 11 amino acids, spanning the HIV Gag C clade sequence proteome, pulsed on white blood cells enriched from whole blood using a closed system, followed by intravenous reinfusion. Patients with undetectable HIV viral loads (<50 copies/ml plasma) on HAART received four administrations at week 0, 4, 8 and 12, and were followed up for 12 weeks post-treatment. Twenty-three people were enrolled in four groups: 12 mg (n = 6), 24 mg (n = 7), 48 mg (n = 2) or matching placebo (n = 8) with 18 immunologically evaluable. T-cell immunogenicity was assessed by IFNγ ELIspot and intracellular cytokine staining (ICS).
The OPAL-HIV-Gag(c) peptides were antigenic in vitro in 17/17 subjects. After vaccination with OPAL-HIV-Gag(c), 1/6 subjects at 12 mg and 1/6 subjects at 24 mg dose groups had a 2- and 3-fold increase in ELIspot magnitudes from baseline, respectively, of Gag-specific CD8+ T-cells at week 14, compared to 0/6 subjects in the placebo group. No Gag-specific CD4+ T-cell responses or overall change in Rev, Nef, Tat and CMV specific responses were detected. Marked, transient and self-limiting lymphopenia was observed immediately post-vaccination (4 hours) in OPAL-HIV-Gag(c) but not in placebo recipients, with median fall from 1.72 to 0.67 million lymphocytes/mL for active groups (P<0.001), compared to post-placebo from 1.70 to 1.56 lymphocytes/ml (P = 0.16).
Despite strong immunogenicity observed in several Macaca nemestrina studies using this approach, OPAL-HIV-Gag(c) was not significantly immunogenic in humans and improved methods of generating high-frequency Gag-specific T-cell responses are required.
Name of Registry
ClinicalTrials.gov, Registry number: NCT01123915, URL trial registry database: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?term=OPAL-HIV-1001&Search=Search
We conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled Phase I study of a recombinant replication-defective adenovirus type 5 (rAd5) vector expressing HIV-1 Gag and Pol from subtype B and Env from subtypes A, B and C, given alone or as boost following a DNA plasmid vaccine expressing the same HIV-1 proteins plus Nef, in 114 healthy HIV-uninfected African adults.
Volunteers were randomized to 4 groups receiving the rAd5 vaccine intramuscularly at dosage levels of 1×1010 or 1×1011 particle units (PU) either alone or as boost following 3 injections of the DNA vaccine given at 4 mg/dose intramuscularly by needle-free injection using Biojector® 2000. Safety and immunogenicity were evaluated for 12 months. Both vaccines were well-tolerated. Overall, 62% and 86% of vaccine recipients in the rAd5 alone and DNA prime - rAd5 boost groups, respectively, responded to the HIV-1 proteins by an interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) ELISPOT. The frequency of immune responses was independent of rAd5 dosage levels. The highest frequency of responses after rAd5 alone was detected at 6 weeks; after DNA prime - rAd5 boost, at 6 months (end of study). At baseline, neutralizing antibodies against Ad5 were present in 81% of volunteers; the distribution was similar across the 4 groups. Pre-existing immunity to Ad5 did not appear to have a significant impact on reactogenicity or immune response rates to HIV antigens by IFN-γ ELISPOT. Binding antibodies against Env were detected in up to 100% recipients of DNA prime - rAd5 boost. One volunteer acquired HIV infection after the study ended, two years after receipt of rAd5 alone.
The HIV-1 rAd5 vaccine, either alone or as a boost following HIV-1 DNA vaccine, was well-tolerated and immunogenic in African adults. DNA priming increased the frequency and magnitude of cellular and humoral immune responses, but there was no effect of rAd5 dosage on immunogenicity endpoints.
We report the primary analysis of the safety and efficacy of the MRKad5 gag/pol/nef HIV-1 sub-type B vaccine in South Africa (SA), where the major circulating clade is sub-type C.
This phase IIb double-blind, randomized test-of-concept study was conducted in sexually active HIV-1 sero-negative participants in SA. The co-primary endpoints were a vaccine-induced reduction in HIV-1 acquisition or viral-load setpoint. These were assessed independently in the modified intent-to-treat (MITT) cohort with two-tailed significance tests stratified by gender. Immunogenicity was assessed by interferon-gamma (IFNγ) ELISPOT in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Following the lack of efficacy of the MRKAd5 HIV-1 vaccine in the Step study, enrollment and vaccination in this study was halted, treatment unblinding occurred and follow-up continued. This study is registered with the SA National Health Research Database (DOH-27-0207-1539) and ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT00413725).
801 of a scheduled 3000 participants were enrolled, of whom 360 (44.9%) were women, more than half (55.6%) had Ad5 titres > 200, and almost a third (29.3%) of men were circumcised. 62 MITT participants were diagnosed with HIV-1, 34 in the vaccine arm and 28 in the placebo arm, with infection rates of 4.54 and 3.70 per 100 person-years, respectively. There was no evidence of vaccine efficacy (VE); the hazard ratio adjusted for gender was 1.25 (95% CI: 0.76, 2.05). VE did not differ by Ad5 titre, gender, age, HSV-2 status, or circumcision. The geometric mean viral load setpoint was 20,483 copies/ml (N=33) in vaccinees and 34,032 copies/ml (N=28) in placebo recipients (p=0.39). The vaccine elicited IFNγ-secreting T cells recognizing both clade B (89.2%) and C (77.4%) antigens.
The MRKAd5 HIV-1 vaccine did not prevent HIV-1 infection or lower viral-load setpoint however early stopping likely compromised our ability to draw conclusions. The high incidence rates seen in SA highlight the critical need for intensified efforts to develop an efficacious vaccine.
HIV; HIV vaccine efficacy studies; South Africa
The development of an effective human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine is a high global priority. Here, we report the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of a replication-defective recombinant adenovirus serotype 5 (rAd5) vector HIV-1 candidate vaccine.
The vaccine is a mixture of 4 rAd5 vectors that express HIV-1 subtype B Gag-Pol fusion protein and envelope (Env) from subtypes A, B, and C. Healthy, uninfected adults were randomized to receive 1 intramuscular injection of placebo (n = 6) or vaccine at dose levels of 109 (n = 10), 1010 (n = 10), or 1011 (n = 10) particle units and were followed for 24 weeks to assess immunogenicity and safety.
The vaccine was well tolerated but was associated with more reactogenicity at the highest dose. At week 4, vaccine antigen–specific T cell responses were detected in 28 (93.3%) and 18 (60%) of 30 vaccine recipients for CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, respectively, by intracellular cytokine staining assay and in 22 (73%) of 30 vaccine recipients by enzyme-linked immunospot assay. Env-specific antibody responses were detected in 15 (50%) of 30 vaccine recipients by enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay and in 28 (93.3%) of 30 vaccine recipients by immunoprecipitation followed by Western blotting. No neutralizing antibody was detected.
A single injection induced HIV-1 antigen–specific CD4+ T cell, CD8+ T cell, and antibody responses in the majority of vaccine recipients. This multiclade rAd5 HIV-1 vaccine is now being evaluated in combination with a multiclade HIV-1 DNA plasmid vaccine.
The safety and immunogenicity of a vaccine regimen consisting of a 6-plasmid HIV-1 DNA prime (envA, envB, envC, gagB, polB, nefB) boosted by a recombinant adenovirus serotype-5 (rAd5) HIV-1 with matching inserts was evaluated in HIV-seronegative participants from South Africa, United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.
480 participants were evenly randomized to receive either: DNA (4 mg IM by Biojector) at 0, 1 and 2 months, followed by rAd5 (1010 PU IM by needle/syringe) at 6 months; or placebo. Participants were monitored for reactogenicity and adverse events throughout the 12-month study. Peak and duration of HIV-specific humoral and cellular immune responses were evaluated after the prime and boost.
The vaccine was well tolerated and safe. T-cell responses, detected by interferon-γ (IFN-γ) ELISpot to global potential T-cell epitopes (PTEs) were observed in 70.8% (136/192) of vaccine recipients overall, most frequently to Gag (54.7%) and to Env (54.2%). In U.S. vaccine recipients T-cell responses were less frequent in Ad5 sero-positive versus sero-negative vaccine recipients (62.5% versus 85.7% respectively, p = 0.035). The frequency of HIV-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses detected by intracellular cytokine staining were similar (41.8% and 47.2% respectively) and most secreted ≥2 cytokines. The vaccine induced a high frequency (83.7%–94.6%) of binding antibody responses to consensus Group M, and Clades A, B and C gp140 Env oligomers. Antibody responses to Gag were elicited in 46% of vaccine recipients.
The vaccine regimen was well-tolerated and induced polyfunctional CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells and multi-clade anti-Env binding antibodies.
Individuals without prior immunity to a vaccine vector may be more sensitive to reactions following injection, but may also show optimal immune responses to vaccine antigens. To assess safety and maximal tolerated dose of an adenoviral vaccine vector in volunteers without prior immunity, we evaluated a recombinant replication-defective adenovirus type 5 (rAd5) vaccine expressing HIV-1 Gag, Pol, and multiclade Env proteins, VRC-HIVADV014-00-VP, in a randomized, double-blind, dose-escalation, multicenter trial (HVTN study 054) in HIV-1-seronegative participants without detectable neutralizing antibodies (nAb) to the vector. As secondary outcomes, we also assessed T-cell and antibody responses.
Volunteers received one dose of vaccine at either 1010 or 1011 adenovector particle units, or placebo. T-cell responses were measured against pools of global potential T-cell epitope peptides. HIV-1 binding and neutralizing antibodies were assessed. Systemic reactogenicity was greater at the higher dose, but the vaccine was well tolerated at both doses. Although no HIV infections occurred, commercial diagnostic assays were positive in 87% of vaccinees one year after vaccination. More than 85% of vaccinees developed HIV-1-specific T-cell responses detected by IFN-γ ELISpot and ICS assays at day 28. T-cell responses were: CD8-biased; evenly distributed across the three HIV-1 antigens; not substantially increased at the higher dose; and detected at similar frequencies one year following injection. The vaccine induced binding antibodies against at least one HIV-1 Env antigen in all recipients.
This vaccine appeared safe and was highly immunogenic following a single dose in human volunteers without prior nAb against the vector.
T cell directed HIV vaccines are based upon the induction of CD8+ T cell memory responses that would be effective in inhibiting infection and subsequent replication of an infecting HIV-1 strain, a process that requires a match or near-match between the epitope induced by vaccination and the infecting viral strain. We compared the frequency and specificity of the CTL epitope responses elicited by the replication-defective Ad5 gag/pol/nef vaccine used in the Step trial with the likelihood of encountering those epitopes among recently sequenced Clade B isolates of HIV-1. Among vaccinees with detectable 15-mer peptide pool ELISpot responses, there was a median of four (one Gag, one Nef and two Pol) CD8 epitopes per vaccinee detected by 9-mer peptide ELISpot assay. Importantly, frequency analysis of the mapped epitopes indicated that there was a significant skewing of the T cell response; variable epitopes were detected more frequently than would be expected from an unbiased sampling of the vaccine sequences. Correspondingly, the most highly conserved epitopes in Gag, Pol, and Nef (defined by presence in >80% of sequences currently in the Los Alamos database www.hiv.lanl.gov) were detected at a lower frequency than unbiased sampling, similar to the frequency reported for responses to natural infection, suggesting potential epitope masking of these responses. This may be a generic mechanism used by the virus in both contexts to escape effective T cell immune surveillance. The disappointing results of the Step trial raise the bar for future HIV vaccine candidates. This report highlights the bias towards less-conserved epitopes present in the same vaccine used in the Step trial. Development of vaccine strategies that can elicit a greater breadth of responses, and towards conserved regions of the genome in particular, are critical requirements for effective T-cell based vaccines against HIV-1.
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00849680, A Study of Safety, Tolerability, and Immunogenicity of the MRKAd5 Gag/Pol/Nef Vaccine in Healthy Adults.
Previous studies of HIV-1 p55Gag immunization of mice have demonstrated the usefulness of targeting antigens to the cellular compartment containing the major histocompatibility complex type II (MHC II) complex molecules by use of a DNA antigen formulation encoding Gag as a chimera with the mouse lysosome-associated membrane protein (mLAMP/gag). In the present study, we have analyzed the magnitude and breadth of Gag-specific T-lymphocyte and antibody responses elicited in Rhesus macaques after immunization with DNA encoding a human LAMP/gag (hLAMP/gag) chimera. ELISPOT analyses indicated that the average Gag-specific IFN-γ response elicited by the hLAMP/gag chimera was detectable after only two or three naked DNA immunizations in all five immunized macaques and reached an average of 1000 spot-forming cells (SFC)/106 PBMCs. High IFN-γ ELISPOT responses were detected in CD8+-depleted cells, indicating that CD4+ T-cells play a major role in these responses. The T-cell responses of four of the macaques were also tested by use of ELISPOT to 12 overlapping 15-amino acids (aa) peptide pools containing ten peptides each, encompassing the complete Gag protein sequence. The two Mamu 08 immunized macaques responded to eight and twelve of the pools, the Mamu B01 to six, and the other macaque to five pools indicating that the hLAMP/gag DNA antigen formulation elicits a broad T-cell response against Gag. Additionally, there was a strong HIV-1-specific IgG response. The IgG antibody titers increased after each DNA injection, indicating a strong amnestic B-cell response, and were highly elevated in all the macaques after three immunizations. Moreover, the serum of each macaque recognized 13 of the 49 peptides of a 20-aa peptide library covering the complete Gag amino acid sequence. In addition, HIV-1-specific IgA antibodies were present in the plasma and external secretions, including nasal washes. These data support the findings of increased immunogenicity of genetic vaccines encoded as LAMP chimeras, including the response to DNA vaccines by non-human primates.
HIV-specific cellular immune responses are associated with control of viremia and delayed disease progression. An effective therapeutic vaccine could mimic these effects and reduce the need for continued antiretroviral therapy. DermaVir, a topically administered pDNA-nanomedicine expressing HIV (CladeB) virus-like particles consisting of 15 antigens, induces predominantly central memory T-cell responses.
Treated HIV-infected adults (HIV RNA<50, CD4>350) were randomized to placebo or escalating DermaVir doses (0.1 or 0.4 mg pDNA at weeks 1/7/13 in the low and intermediate-dose groups, 0.8 mg at weeks 0/1/6/7/12/13 in the high-dose group), n=5–6 evaluable subjects/group. Immunogenicity was assessed by a 12-day cultured IFN-γ ELISPOT assay, at baseline and at 9/17/37 weeks, using one Tat/Rev and three overlapping Gag peptide pools (p17/p24/p15).
Groups were comparable at baseline. The study intervention was well tolerated, without dose-limiting toxicities. Most responses were highest at week 17 (4 weeks after last vaccination), when Gag p24 responses were significantly greater among intermediate-dose compared to control subjects (median [IQR]: 67,600 [5,633 – 74,368] vs. 1,194 [9 – 1,667] net spot-forming units/million cells, p = 0.032. In the intermediate-dose group, there was also a marginal Gag p15 response increase from baseline to week 17 (2859 [1867 – 56933], p=0.06), and this change was significantly greater than in the placebo group (0 [−713 – 297], p=0.016).
DermaVIr administration was associated with a trend toward greater HIV-specific, predominantly central memory T-cell responses. The intermediate DermaVir dose tended to show the greatest immunogenicity, consistent with previous studies in different HIV-infected patient populations.
DermaVir; CTL responses; HIV therapeutic vaccines; HIV-specific immune response
A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled phase I trial.
The trial was conducted in 32 HIV-uninfected healthy volunteers to assess the safety and immunogenicity of prime-boost vaccination regimens with either 2 doses of ADVAX, a DNA vaccine containing Chinese HIV-1 subtype C env gp160, gag, pol and nef/tat genes, as a prime and 2 doses of TBC-M4, a recombinant MVA encoding Indian HIV-1 subtype C env gp160, gag, RT, rev, tat, and nef genes, as a boost in Group A or 3 doses of TBC-M4 alone in Group B participants. Out of 16 participants in each group, 12 received vaccine candidates and 4 received placebos.
Both vaccine regimens were found to be generally safe and well tolerated. The breadth of anti-HIV binding antibodies and the titres of anti-HIV neutralizing antibodies were significantly higher (p<0.05) in Group B volunteers at 14 days post last vaccination. Neutralizing antibodies were detected mainly against Tier-1 subtype B and C viruses. HIV-specific IFN-γ ELISPOT responses were directed mostly to Env and Gag proteins. Although the IFN-γ ELISPOT responses were infrequent after ADVAX vaccinations, the response rate was significantly higher in group A after 1st and 2nd MVA doses as compared to the responses in group B volunteers. However, the priming effect was short lasting leading to no difference in the frequency, breadth and magnitude of IFN-γELISPOT responses between the groups at 3, 6 and 9 months post-last vaccination.
Although DNA priming resulted in enhancement of immune responses after 1st MVA boosting, the overall DNA prime MVA boost was not found to be immunologically superior to homologous MVA boosting.
Clinical Trial Registry CTRI/2009/091/000051
Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum) malaria remains a significant cause of mortality and morbidity throughout the world. Development of an effective vaccine would be a key intervention to reduce the considerable social and economic impact of malaria.
We conducted a Phase Ia, non-randomized, clinical trial in 24 healthy, malaria-naïve adults of the chimpanzee adenovirus 63 (ChAd63) and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) replication-deficient viral vectored vaccines encoding the circumsporozoite protein (CS) of P. falciparum.
ChAd63-MVA CS administered in a heterologous prime-boost regime was shown to be safe and immunogenic, inducing high-level T cell responses to CS. With a priming ChAd63 CS dose of 5×109 vp responses peaked at a mean of 1947 SFC/million PBMC (median 1524) measured by ELIspot 7 days after the MVA boost and showed a mixed CD4+/CD8+ phenotype. With a higher priming dose of ChAd63 CS dose 5×1010 vp T cell responses did not increase (mean 1659 SFC/million PBMC, median 1049). Serum IgG responses to CS were modest and peaked at day 14 post ChAd63 CS (median antibody concentration for all groups at day 14 of 1.3 µg/ml (range 0–11.9), but persisted throughout late follow-up (day 140 median antibody concentration groups 1B & 2B 0.9 µg/ml (range 0–4.7).
ChAd63-MVA is a safe and highly immunogenic delivery platform for the CS antigen in humans which warrants efficacy testing.
We conducted a Phase I dose-escalation trial of ADMVA, a Clade-B'/C-based HIV-1 candidate vaccine expressing env, gag, pol, nef, and tat in a modified vaccinia Ankara viral vector. Sequences were derived from a prevalent circulating HIV-1 recombinant form in Yunnan, China, an area of high HIV incidence. The objective was to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of ADMVA in human volunteers.
ADMVA or placebo was administered intramuscularly at months 0, 1 and 6 to 50 healthy adult volunteers not at high risk for HIV-1. In each dosage group [1×107 (low), 5×107 (mid), or 2.5×108 pfu (high)] volunteers were randomized in a 3∶1 ratio to receive ADMVA or placebo in a double-blinded design. Subjects were followed for local and systemic reactogenicity, adverse events including cardiac adverse events, and clinical laboratory parameters. Study follow up was 18 months. Humoral immunogenicity was evaluated by anti-gp120 binding ELISA, immunoflourescent staining, and HIV-1 neutralization. Cellular immunogenicity was assessed by a validated IFNγ ELISpot assay and intracellular cytokine staining. Anti-vaccinia binding titers were measured by ELISA.
ADMVA was generally well-tolerated, with no vaccine-related serious adverse events or cardiac adverse events. Local or systemic reactogenicity events were reported by 77% and 78% of volunteers, respectively. The majority of events were of mild intensity. The IFNγ ELISpot response rate to any HIV antigen was 0/12 (0%) in the placebo group, 3/12 (25%) in the low dosage group, 6/12 (50%) in the mid dosage group, and 8/13 (62%) in the high dosage group. Responses were often multigenic and occasionally persisted up to one year post vaccination. Antibodies to gp120 were detected in 0/12 (0%), 8/13 (62%), 6/12 (50%) and 10/13 (77%) in the placebo, low, mid, and high dosage groups, respectively. Antibodies persisted up to 12 months after vaccination, with a trend toward agreement with the ability to neutralize HIV-1 SF162 in vitro. Two volunteers mounted antibodies that were able to neutralize clade-matched viruses.
ADMVA was well-tolerated and elicited durable humoral and cellular immune responses.
The results of the recent Step Study highlight a need to clarify the effects of pre-existing natural immunity to a vaccine vector on vaccine-induced T-cell responses. To investigate this interaction, we examined the relationship between pre-existing Ad5 immunity and T-cell cytokine response profiles in healthy, HIV-uninfected recipients of MRKAd5 HIV-1 gag vaccine (HVTN 050, ClinicalTrials.gov #NCT00849732). Participants were grouped by baseline Ad5 neutralizing antibody titer as either Ad5-seronegative (titer ≤18; n = 36) or Ad5-seropositive (titer >200; n = 34). Samples from vaccine recipients were analyzed for immune responses to either HIV-1 Gag peptide pools or Ad5 empty vector using an ex vivo assay that measures thirty cytokines in the absence of long-term culture. The overall profiles of cytokine responses to Gag and Ad5 had similar combinations of induced Th1- and Th2-type cytokines, including IFN-γ, IL-2, TNF-α, IP-10, IL-13, and IL-10, although the Ad5-specific responses were uniformly higher than the Gag-specific responses (p<0.0001 for 9 out of 11 significantly expressed analytes). At the peak response time point, PBMC from Ad5-seronegative vaccinees secreted significantly more IP-10 in response to Gag (p = 0.008), and significantly more IP-10 (p = 0.0009), IL-2 (p = 0.006) and IL-10 (p = 0.05) in response to Ad5 empty vector than PBMC from Ad5-seropositive vaccinees. Additionally, similar responses to the Ad5 vector prior to vaccination were observed in almost all subjects, regardless of Ad5 neutralizing antibody status, and the levels of secreted IFN-γ, IL-10, IL-1Ra and GM-CSF were blunted following vaccination. The cytokine response profile of Gag-specific T cells mirrored the Ad5-specific response present in all subjects before vaccination, and included a number of Th1- and Th2-associated cytokines not routinely assessed in current vaccine trials, such as IP-10, IL-10, IL-13, and GM-CSF. Together, these results suggest that vector-specific humoral responses may reduce vaccine-induced T-cell responses by previously undetected mechanisms.
Observational data and non-human primate challenge studies suggest that cell-mediated immune (CMI) responses may provide control of HIV replication. The Step Study is the first direct assessment of the efficacy of a CMI vaccine to protect against HIV infection or alter early plasma HIV levels in humans.
HIV-seronegative participants (3000) were randomized (1:1) to receive 3 injections of MRKAd5 HIV-1 gag/pol/nef vaccine or placebo. Randomization was pre-stratified by gender, baseline adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) titer, and study site. Participants were tested ~every 6 months for HIV acquisition; early plasma HIV RNA was measured ~3 months post-HIV diagnosis.
The vaccine elicited IFN-γ ELISPOT responses in 75% of vaccinees. In a pre-specified interim analysis among participants with baseline Ad5 ≤200, 24 of 741 vaccinees became HIV infected, versus 21 of 762 placebo recipients. All but one infection occurred in men. The early geometric mean plasma HIV RNA was comparable in infected vaccine and placebo recipients. In exploratory multivariate analyses, HIV incidence was higher in vaccinees versus placebo recipients among Ad5 seropositive men (5.1% versus 2.2% per year, respectively) and uncircumcised men (5.2% versus 1.4% per year, respectively). HIV incidence was similar in vaccinees versus placebo recipients among Ad5 seronegative men and circumcised men.
This CMI vaccine did not prevent HIV infection or lower early viral level. Mechanisms for failure of the vaccine to protect and for the increased HIV infection rates in subgroups of vaccinees are being explored. Additional follow-up will determine if elevated HIV incidence in vaccinee subgroups persists.
HIV vaccine; efficacy; adenovirus; HIV acquisition; viral load; male circumcision; test of concept
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine development remains a global priority. We describe the safety and immunogenicity of a multi-clade DNA vaccine prime with a replication-defective Adenovirus type 5 (rAd5) boost.
The vaccine is a 6-plasmid mixture encoding HIV envelope (env) subtypes A, B and C and subtype B gag, pol and nef, and a rAd5 expressing identical genes, with the exception of nef. Three hundred and twenty-four participants were randomized to receive placebo (n=138), a single dose of rAd5 at 1010 (n=24) or 1011 particle units (n=24), or DNA at 0, 1 and 2 months followed by rAd5 at either 1010 (n=114) or 1011 particle units (n=24) boosting at 6 months. Participants were followed for 24 weeks after the final immunization.
The vaccine was safe and well tolerated. HIV-specific T cell responses were detected in 63% of vaccinees. Pre-existing Ad5 neutralizing antibody titer did not impact the frequency and magnitude of T cell responses in prime-boost recipients, but did impact the response rates in participants receiving rAd5 alone (p=0.037).
The DNA/rAd5 immunization regimen was safe and induced HIV-1 multi-clade T cell responses, which were not significantly affected by pre-existing rAd5 neutralizing antibody titer.
HIV-1 Vaccine; DNA plasmid vaccine; recombinant Adenovirus vaccine; Africa vaccine trial
We conducted a Phase I dose escalation trial of ADVAX, a DNA-based candidate HIV-1 vaccine expressing Clade C/B' env, gag, pol, nef, and tat genes. Sequences were derived from a prevalent circulating recombinant form in Yunnan, China, an area of high HIV-1 incidence. The objective was to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of ADVAX in human volunteers.
ADVAX or placebo was administered intramuscularly at months 0, 1 and 3 to 45 healthy volunteers not at high risk for HIV-1. Three dosage levels [0.2 mg (low), 1.0 mg (mid), and 4.0 mg (high)] were tested. Twelve volunteers in each dosage group were assigned to receive ADVAX and three to receive placebo in a double-blind design. Subjects were followed for local and systemic reactogenicity, adverse events, and clinical laboratory parameters. Study follow up was 18 months. Humoral immunogenicity was evaluated by anti-gp120 binding ELISA. Cellular immunogenicity was assessed by a validated IFNγ ELISpot assay and intracellular cytokine staining. ADVAX was safe and well-tolerated, with no vaccine-related serious adverse events. Local and systemic reactogenicity events were reported by 64% and 42% of vaccine recipients, respectively. The majority of events were mild. The IFNγ ELISpot response rates to any HIV antigen were 0/9 (0%) in the placebo group, 3/12 (25%) in the low-dosage group, 4/12 (33%) in the mid-dosage group, and 2/12 (17%) in the high-dosage group. Overall, responses were generally transient and occurred to each gene product, although volunteers responded to single antigens only. Binding antibodies to gp120 were not detected in any volunteers, and HIV seroconversion did not occur.
ADVAX delivered intramuscularly is safe, well-tolerated, and elicits modest but transient cellular immune responses.
A protective malaria vaccine will likely need to elicit both cell-mediated and antibody responses. As adenovirus vaccine vectors induce both these responses in humans, a Phase 1/2a clinical trial was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of an adenovirus serotype 5-vectored malaria vaccine against sporozoite challenge.
NMRC-MV-Ad-PfC is an adenovirus vector encoding the Plasmodium falciparum 3D7 circumsporozoite protein (CSP). It is one component of a two-component vaccine NMRC-M3V-Ad-PfCA consisting of one adenovector encoding CSP and one encoding apical membrane antigen-1 (AMA1) that was evaluated for safety and immunogenicity in an earlier study (see companion paper, Sedegah et al). Fourteen Ad5 seropositive or negative adults received two doses of NMRC-MV-Ad-PfC sixteen weeks apart, at particle units per dose. The vaccine was safe and well tolerated. All volunteers developed positive ELISpot responses by 28 days after the first immunization (geometric mean 272 spot forming cells/million[sfc/m]) that declined during the following 16 weeks and increased after the second dose to levels that in most cases were less than the initial peak (geometric mean 119 sfc/m). CD8+ predominated over CD4+ responses, as in the first clinical trial. Antibody responses were poor and like ELISpot responses increased after the second immunization but did not exceed the initial peak. Pre-existing neutralizing antibodies (NAb) to Ad5 did not affect the immunogenicity of the first dose, but the fold increase in NAb induced by the first dose was significantly associated with poorer antibody responses after the second dose, while ELISpot responses remained unaffected. When challenged by the bite of P. falciparum-infected mosquitoes, two of 11 volunteers showed a delay in the time to patency compared to infectivity controls, but no volunteers were sterilely protected.
The NMRC-MV-Ad-PfC vaccine expressing CSP was safe and well tolerated given as two doses, but did not provide sterile protection.
A phase 1 clinical trial was conducted among 35 healthy adult volunteers to evaluate the safety, immunogenicity, and shedding of different doses of CVD 1207, a live attenuated Shigella flexneri 2a vaccine candidate with specific deletion mutations in virG, sen, set, and guaBA. CVD 1207 retains the ability to invade epithelial cells but cannot effectively spread intercellularly after invasion (ΔvirG), does not produce enterotoxin (Δsen and Δset), and has limited proliferation in vivo (ΔguaBA). In a consecutive fashion, groups of three to seven subjects ingested a single oral dose of CVD 1207 at an inoculum of either 106, 107, 108, 109, or 1010 CFU. CVD 1207 was remarkably well-tolerated at inocula as high as 108 CFU. In comparison, one of 12 subjects who received 109 CFU experienced mild diarrhea and another experienced a single episode of emesis. One of five subjects who received 1010 CFU experienced watery diarrhea and emesis. All subjects who ingested doses of 108 to 1010 CFU excreted the vaccine; in 23 of 25, the duration of excretion was ≤3 days. A dose-related, immunoglobulin A antibody-secreting cell (ASC) response to S. flexneri 2a O-specific lipopolysaccharide was seen, with geometric mean peak values of 6.1 to 35.2 ASCs/106 peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) among recipients of 107 to 1010 CFU. The cytokine response to Shigella-specific antigens observed in volunteers' PBMC following vaccination suggested a Th1 pattern with stimulation of gamma interferon and absence of interleukin 4 (IL-4) or IL-5. CVD 1207 represents a Shigella live oral vaccine strain prepared from wild-type S. flexneri 2a by rational use of recombinant DNA technology that achieves a remarkable degree of attenuation compared with earlier recombinant strains, even when administered at high dosage.
Background. To investigate the potential immunostimulatory effect of interleukin (IL) 2 as a human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccine adjuvant, we conducted a study of a plasmid coding for a fusion protein of IL-2 and immunoglobulin (IL-2/Ig).
Methods. This phase I trial evaluated an HIV-1 DNA vaccine with the plasmid cytokine adjuvant (IL-2/Ig) in 70 HIV-negative adults. Subjects received placebo (group C), adjuvant alone (group A), vaccine alone (group D), increasing doses of adjuvant concurrent with vaccine (groups T1–T4), or adjuvant given 2 days after vaccine (group T5).
Results. No significant differences in adverse events were observed between treatment groups. Cellular immune responses to envelope protein EnvA peptides were detected by interferon (IFN) γ and IL-2 enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assays in 50% and 40% of subjects, respectively, in T4, and in 100% and 80% in T5. The median responses for groups T4 and T5, respectively, were 90 and 193 spot-forming cells (SFCs)/106 peripheral blood mononuclear cells (P = .004; T4 vs T5) for the IL-2 ELISPOT assay and 103 and 380 SFCs/106 PBMCs (P = .003; T4 vs T5) for the IFN-γ ELISPOT assay. A trend to more durable cellular immune responses in T5 was observed at 1 year (T5 vs T4/D; P = .07). Higher anti-Env antibody responses were detected with T5 than with T4.
Conclusions. Plasmid IL-2/Ig significantly increased immune responses when administered 2 days after the DNA vaccine, compared with simultaneous administration. These observations have important implications for the development of cytokine augmentation strategies.
Clinical Trials Registration. NCT00069030.