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1.  HIV-1 Vaccine-Induced C1 and V2 Env-Specific Antibodies Synergize for Increased Antiviral Activities 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(14):7715-7726.
The RV144 ALVAC/AIDSVax HIV-1 vaccine clinical trial showed an estimated vaccine efficacy of 31.2%. Viral genetic analysis identified a vaccine-induced site of immune pressure in the HIV-1 envelope (Env) variable region 2 (V2) focused on residue 169, which is included in the epitope recognized by vaccinee-derived V2 monoclonal antibodies. The ALVAC/AIDSVax vaccine induced antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) against the Env V2 and constant 1 (C1) regions. In the presence of low IgA Env antibody levels, plasma levels of ADCC activity correlated with lower risk of infection. In this study, we demonstrate that C1 and V2 monoclonal antibodies isolated from RV144 vaccinees synergized for neutralization, infectious virus capture, and ADCC. Importantly, synergy increased the HIV-1 ADCC activity of V2 monoclonal antibody CH58 at concentrations similar to that observed in plasma of RV144 vaccinees. These findings raise the hypothesis that synergy among vaccine-induced antibodies with different epitope specificities contributes to HIV-1 antiviral antibody responses and is important to induce for reduction in the risk of HIV-1 transmission.
IMPORTANCE The Thai RV144 ALVAC/AIDSVax prime-boost vaccine efficacy trial represents the only example of HIV-1 vaccine efficacy in humans to date. Studies aimed at identifying immune correlates involved in the modest vaccine-mediated protection identified HIV-1 envelope (Env) variable region 2-binding antibodies as inversely correlated with infection risk, and genetic analysis identified a site of immune pressure within the region recognized by these antibodies. Despite this evidence, the antiviral mechanisms by which variable region 2-specific antibodies may have contributed to lower rates of infection remain unclear. In this study, we demonstrate that vaccine-induced HIV-1 envelope variable region 2 and constant region 1 antibodies synergize for recognition of virus-infected cells, infectious virion capture, virus neutralization, and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. This is a major step in understanding how these types of antibodies may have cooperatively contributed to reducing infection risk and should be considered in the context of prospective vaccine design.
PMCID: PMC4097802  PMID: 24807721
2.  Antibody-Mediated Internalization of Infectious HIV-1 Virions Differs among Antibody Isotypes and Subclasses 
PLoS Pathogens  2016;12(8):e1005817.
Emerging data support a role for antibody Fc-mediated antiviral activity in vaccine efficacy and in the control of HIV-1 replication by broadly neutralizing antibodies. Antibody-mediated virus internalization is an Fc-mediated function that may act at the portal of entry whereby effector cells may be triggered by pre-existing antibodies to prevent HIV-1 acquisition. Understanding the capacity of HIV-1 antibodies in mediating internalization of HIV-1 virions by primary monocytes is critical to understanding their full antiviral potency. Antibody isotypes/subclasses differ in functional profile, with consequences for their antiviral activity. For instance, in the RV144 vaccine trial that achieved partial efficacy, Env IgA correlated with increased risk of HIV-1 infection (i.e. decreased vaccine efficacy), whereas V1-V2 IgG3 correlated with decreased risk of HIV-1 infection (i.e. increased vaccine efficacy). Thus, understanding the different functional attributes of HIV-1 specific IgG1, IgG3 and IgA antibodies will help define the mechanisms of immune protection. Here, we utilized an in vitro flow cytometric method utilizing primary monocytes as phagocytes and infectious HIV-1 virions as targets to determine the capacity of Env IgA (IgA1, IgA2), IgG1 and IgG3 antibodies to mediate HIV-1 infectious virion internalization. Importantly, both broadly neutralizing antibodies (i.e. PG9, 2G12, CH31, VRC01 IgG) and non-broadly neutralizing antibodies (i.e. 7B2 mAb, mucosal HIV-1+ IgG) mediated internalization of HIV-1 virions. Furthermore, we found that Env IgG3 of multiple specificities (i.e. CD4bs, V1-V2 and gp41) mediated increased infectious virion internalization over Env IgG1 of the same specificity, while Env IgA mediated decreased infectious virion internalization compared to IgG1. These data demonstrate that antibody-mediated internalization of HIV-1 virions depends on antibody specificity and isotype. Evaluation of the phagocytic potency of vaccine-induced antibodies and therapeutic antibodies will enable a better understanding of their capacity to prevent and/or control HIV-1 infection in vivo.
Author Summary
Emerging data highlight the role of antibody Fc effector functions as immunological mechanisms involved in vaccine and passive immunotherapy efficacy. One such Fc effector function is antibody-mediated virion internalization, where antibodies recognize a virus and engage Fc receptors on phagocytes, causing them to internalize the virus. Although potentially critical for protection from HIV-1 acquisition, the ability of HIV-1 specific antibodies to mediate virion internalization of infectious HIV-1 particles is unknown. We demonstrate that antibodies with different paratopes, isotypes and subclasses mediate HIV-1 virion internalization, using novel HIV-1 internalization assays. Env IgG3 mediated greater virion internalization activity than IgG1, followed by IgA1 and IgA2. Given that Env IgG3 correlated with decreased risk of HIV-1 infection in the one partially efficacious HIV-1 vaccine trial to date (RV144), determining the underlying antiviral mechanisms is critical for improving HIV-1 prevention strategies. Our study provides direct evidence of a new antiviral mechanism against HIV-1 infection, IgG3 mediated virion internalization, and raises the hypothesis that a mechanism of protection mediated by IgG3 could be this improved Fc-mediated antiviral function. These findings have important implications for harnessing antibody effector functions for HIV-1 vaccine design, HIV-1 cure and passive immunotherapy for HIV-1 clearance at the portal of entry.
PMCID: PMC5007037  PMID: 27579713
3.  Combined HIV-1 Envelope Systemic and Mucosal Immunization of Lactating Rhesus Monkeys Induces a Robust Immunoglobulin A Isotype B Cell Response in Breast Milk 
Journal of Virology  2016;90(10):4951-4965.
Maternal vaccination to induce anti-HIV immune factors in breast milk is a potential intervention to prevent postnatal HIV-1 mother-to-child transmission (MTCT). We previously demonstrated that immunization of lactating rhesus monkeys with a modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) prime/intramuscular (i.m.) protein boost regimen induced functional IgG responses in milk, while MVA prime/intranasal (i.n.) boost induced robust milk Env-specific IgA responses. Yet, recent studies have suggested that prevention of postnatal MTCT may require both Env-specific IgA and functional IgG responses in milk. Thus, to investigate whether both responses could be elicited by a combined systemic/mucosal immunization strategy, animals previously immunized with the MVA prime/i.n. boost regimen received an i.n./i.m. combined C.1086 gp120 boost. Remarkably, high-magnitude Env-specific IgA responses were observed in milk, surpassing those in plasma. Furthermore, 29% of vaccine-elicited Env-specific B cells isolated from breast milk were IgA isotype, in stark contrast to the overwhelming predominance of IgG isotype Env-specific B cells in breast milk of chronically HIV-infected women. A clonal relationship was identified between Env-specific blood and breast milk B cells, suggesting trafficking of that cell population between the two compartments. Furthermore, IgA and IgG monoclonal antibodies isolated from Env-specific breast milk B cells demonstrated diverse Env epitope specificities and multiple effector functions, including tier 1 neutralization, antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), infected cell binding, and inhibition of viral attachment to epithelial cells. Thus, maternal i.n./i.m. combined immunization is a novel strategy to enhance protective Env-specific IgA in milk, which is subsequently transferred to the infant via breastfeeding.
IMPORTANCE Efforts to increase the availability of antiretroviral therapy to pregnant and breastfeeding women in resource-limited areas have proven remarkably successful at reducing HIV vertical transmission rates. However, more than 200,000 children are infected annually due to failures in therapy implementation, monitoring, and adherence, nearly half by postnatal HIV exposure via maternal breast milk. Intriguingly, in the absence of antiretroviral therapy, only 10% of breastfed infants born to HIV-infected mothers acquire the virus, suggesting the existence of naturally protective immune factors in milk. Enhancement of these protective immune factors through maternal vaccination will be a critical strategy to reduce the global pediatric AIDS epidemic. We have previously demonstrated that a high magnitude of HIV Env-specific IgA in milk correlates with reduced risk of infant HIV acquisition. In this study, we describe a novel HIV vaccine regimen that induces potent IgA responses in milk and therefore could potentially protect against breast milk HIV MTCT.
PMCID: PMC4859715  PMID: 26937027
4.  Nonneutralizing Functional Antibodies: a New “Old” Paradigm for HIV Vaccines 
Animal and human data from various viral infections and vaccine studies suggest that nonneutralizing antibodies (nNAb) without neutralizing activity in vitro may play an important role in protection against viral infection in vivo. This was illustrated by the recent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) RV144 vaccine efficacy trial, which demonstrated that HIV-specific IgG-mediated nNAb directed against the V2 loop of HIV type 1 envelope (Env) were inversely correlated with risk for HIV acquisition, while Env-specific plasma IgA-mediated antibodies were directly correlated with risk. However, tier 1 NAb in the subset of responders with a low level of plasma Env-specific IgA correlated with decreased risk. Nonhuman primate simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) challenge studies suggest that Env-mediated antibodies are essential and sufficient for protection. A comparison of immune responses generated in human efficacy trials reveals subtle differences in the fine specificities of the antibody responses, in particular in HIV-specific IgG subclasses. The underlying mechanisms that may have contributed to protection against HIV acquisition in humans, although not fully understood, are possibly mediated by antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) and/or other nonneutralizing humoral effector functions, such as antibody-mediated phagocytosis. The presence of such functional nNAb in mucosal tissues and cervico-vaginal and rectal secretions challenges the paradigm that NAb are the predominant immune response conferring protection, although this does not negate the desirability of evoking neutralizing antibodies through vaccination. Instead, NAb and nNAb should be looked upon as complementary or synergistic humoral effector functions. Several HIV vaccine clinical trials to study these antibody responses in various prime-boost modalities in the systemic and mucosal compartments are ongoing. The induction of high-frequency HIV-specific functional nNAb at high titers may represent an attractive hypothesis-testing strategy in future HIV vaccine efficacy trials.
PMCID: PMC4135913  PMID: 24920599
5.  Are anti-HIV IgAs good guys or bad guys? 
Retrovirology  2014;11:109.
An estimated 90% of all HIV transmissions occur mucosally. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) molecules are important components of mucosal fluids. In a vaccine efficacy study, in which virosomes displaying HIV gp41 antigens protected most rhesus monkeys (RMs) against simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV), protection correlated with vaginal IgA capable of blocking HIV transcytosis in vitro. Furthermore, vaginal IgG exhibiting virus neutralization and/or antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) correlated with prevention of systemic infection. In contrast, plasma IgG had neither neutralizing nor ADCC activity. More recently, a passive mucosal immunization study provided the first direct proof that dimeric IgAs (dIgAs) can prevent SHIV acquisition in RMs challenged mucosally. This study compared dimeric IgA1 (dIgA1), dIgA2, or IgG1 versions of a human neutralizing monoclonal antibody (nmAb) targeting a conserved HIV Env epitope. While the nmAb neutralization profiles were identical in vitro, dIgA1 was significantly more protective in vivo than dIgA2. Protection was linked to a new mechanism: virion capture. Protection also correlated with inhibition of transcytosis of cell-free virus in vitro. While both of these primate model studies demonstrated protective effects of mucosal IgAs, the RV144 clinical trial identified plasma IgA responses to HIV Env as risk factors for increased HIV acquisition. In a secondary analysis of RV144, plasma IgA decreased the in vitro ADCC activity of vaccine-induced, Env-specific IgG with the same epitope specificity. Here we review the current literature regarding the potential of IgA – systemic as well as mucosal – in modulating virus acquisition and address the question whether anti-HIV IgA responses could help or harm the host.
PMCID: PMC4297362  PMID: 25499540
IgA; Dimeric IgA1 (dIgA1); dIgA2; Secretory IgA (SIgA); HIV/SHIV; Mucosal transmission; Passive immunization; Non-human primate models; RV144 trial; AIDS vaccine development
6.  Mucosal B Cells Are Associated with Delayed SIV Acquisition in Vaccinated Female but Not Male Rhesus Macaques Following SIVmac251 Rectal Challenge 
PLoS Pathogens  2015;11(8):e1005101.
Many viral infections, including HIV, exhibit sex-based pathogenic differences. However, few studies have examined vaccine-related sex differences. We compared immunogenicity and protective efficacy of monomeric SIV gp120 with oligomeric SIV gp140 in a pre-clinical rhesus macaque study and explored a subsequent sex bias in vaccine outcome. Each immunization group (16 females, 8 males) was primed twice mucosally with replication-competent Ad-recombinants encoding SIVsmH4env/rev, SIV239gag and SIV239nefΔ1–13 and boosted twice intramuscularly with SIVmac239 monomeric gp120 or oligomeric gp140 in MF59 adjuvant. Controls (7 females, 5 males) received empty Ad and MF59. Up to 9 weekly intrarectal challenges with low-dose SIVmac251 were administered until macaques became infected. We assessed vaccine-induced binding, neutralizing, and non-neutralizing antibodies, Env-specific memory B cells and plasmablasts/plasma cells (PB/PC) in bone marrow and rectal tissue, mucosal Env-specific antibodies, and Env-specific T-cells. Post-challenge, only one macaque (gp140-immunized) remained uninfected. However, SIV acquisition was significantly delayed in vaccinated females but not males, correlated with Env-specific IgA in rectal secretions, rectal Env-specific memory B cells, and PC in rectal tissue. These results extend previous correlations of mucosal antibodies and memory B cells with protective efficacy. The gp140 regimen was more immunogenic, stimulating elevated gp140 and cyclic V2 binding antibodies, ADCC and ADCP activities, bone marrow Env-specific PB/PC, and rectal gp140-specific IgG. However, immunization with gp120, the form of envelope immunogen used in RV144, the only vaccine trial to show some efficacy, provided more significant acquisition delay. Further over 40 weeks of follow-up, no gp120 immunized macaques met euthanasia criteria in contrast to 7 gp140-immunized and 2 control animals. Although males had higher binding antibodies than females, ADCC and ADCP activities were similar. The complex challenge outcomes may reflect differences in IgG subtypes, Fc glycosylation, Fc-R polymorphisms, and/or the microbiome, key areas for future studies. This first demonstration of a sex-difference in SIV vaccine-induced protection emphasizes the need for sex-balancing in vaccine trials. Our results highlight the importance of mucosal immunity and memory B cells at the SIV exposure site for protection.
Author Summary
Viral infections can have different disease courses in men and women. Following HIV infection, women generally exhibit lower viral loads and higher CD4 counts than men, but paradoxically progress faster to AIDS. Sex differences result from effects of X-linked genes and hormonal influences, and are believed to be largely based on immune response differences. Nevertheless, little is known about potential sex differences following vaccination. Here we report for the first time a sex bias in response to a SIV vaccine in rhesus macaques, showing that female animals were better protected against acquisition of SIV compared to males. The vaccine-induced immune responses that contributed to this better protection were viral-specific antibodies and immune antibody-secreting B cells, both at the local rectal site of SIV exposure. These results suggest that HIV/SIV vaccines should be better designed to target mucosal exposure sites. Additionally, they indicate that more vaccine studies should include animals of both sexes to address potential differences. Our study also illustrates that inclusion of both sexes can lead to greater complexity in vaccine trial outcomes, necessitating more in depth analyses. However, we believe sex balancing to be particularly important, as approximately 50% of HIV infections worldwide occur in women.
PMCID: PMC4534401  PMID: 26267144
7.  Antibody-Dependent Cellular Cytotoxicity-Mediating Antibodies from an HIV-1 Vaccine Efficacy Trial Target Multiple Epitopes and Preferentially Use the VH1 Gene Family 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(21):11521-11532.
The ALVAC-HIV/AIDSVAX-B/E RV144 vaccine trial showed an estimated efficacy of 31%. RV144 secondary immune correlate analysis demonstrated that the combination of low plasma anti-HIV-1 Env IgA antibodies and high levels of antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) inversely correlate with infection risk. One hypothesis is that the observed protection in RV144 is partially due to ADCC-mediating antibodies. We found that the majority (73 to 90%) of a representative group of vaccinees displayed plasma ADCC activity, usually (96.2%) blocked by competition with the C1 region-specific A32 Fab fragment. Using memory B-cell cultures and antigen-specific B-cell sorting, we isolated 23 ADCC-mediating nonclonally related antibodies from 6 vaccine recipients. These antibodies targeted A32-blockable conformational epitopes (n = 19), a non-A32-blockable conformational epitope (n = 1), and the gp120 Env variable loops (n = 3). Fourteen antibodies mediated cross-clade target cell killing. ADCC-mediating antibodies displayed modest levels of V-heavy (VH) chain somatic mutation (0.5 to 1.5%) and also displayed a disproportionate usage of VH1 family genes (74%), a phenomenon recently described for CD4-binding site broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs). Maximal ADCC activity of VH1 antibodies correlated with mutation frequency. The polyclonality and low mutation frequency of these VH1 antibodies reveal fundamental differences in the regulation and maturation of these ADCC-mediating responses compared to VH1 bNAbs.
PMCID: PMC3486290  PMID: 22896626
8.  Enhancing Exposure of HIV-1 Neutralization Epitopes through Mutations in gp41 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(1):e9.
The generation of broadly neutralizing antibodies is a priority in the design of vaccines against HIV-1. Unfortunately, most antibodies to HIV-1 are narrow in their specificity, and a basic understanding of how to develop antibodies with broad neutralizing activity is needed. Designing methods to target antibodies to conserved HIV-1 epitopes may allow for the generation of broadly neutralizing antibodies and aid the global fight against AIDS by providing new approaches to block HIV-1 infection. Using a naturally occurring HIV-1 Envelope (Env) variant as a template, we sought to identify features of Env that would enhance exposure of conserved HIV-1 epitopes.
Methods and Findings
Within a cohort study of high-risk women in Mombasa, Kenya, we previously identified a subtype A HIV-1 Env variant in one participant that was unusually sensitive to neutralization. Using site-directed mutagenesis, the unusual neutralization sensitivity of this variant was mapped to two amino acid mutations within conserved sites in the transmembrane subunit (gp41) of the HIV-1 Env protein. These two mutations, when introduced into a neutralization-resistant variant from the same participant, resulted in 3- to >360-fold enhanced neutralization by monoclonal antibodies specific for conserved regions of both gp41 and the Env surface subunit, gp120, >780-fold enhanced neutralization by soluble CD4, and >35-fold enhanced neutralization by the antibodies found within a pool of plasmas from unrelated individuals. Enhanced neutralization sensitivity was not explained by differences in Env infectivity, Env concentration, Env shedding, or apparent differences in fusion kinetics. Furthermore, introduction of these mutations into unrelated viral Env sequences, including those from both another subtype A variant and a subtype B variant, resulted in enhanced neutralization susceptibility to gp41- and gp120-specific antibodies, and to plasma antibodies. This enhanced neutralization sensitivity exceeded 1,000-fold in several cases.
Two amino acid mutations within gp41 were identified that expose multiple discontinuous neutralization epitopes on diverse HIV-1 Env proteins. These exposed epitopes were shielded on the unmodified viral Env proteins, and several of the exposed epitopes encompass desired target regions for protective antibodies. Env proteins containing these modifications could act as a scaffold for presentation of such conserved domains, and may aid in developing methods to target antibodies to such regions.
Julie Overbaugh and colleagues analyze an HIV strain with high susceptibility to antibody neutralization and identify two gp41 envelope mutations that confer this sensitivity by exposing multiple neutralization epitopes.
Editors' Summary
In 1984 when scientists identified human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)—the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)—many experts believed that a vaccine against HIV infection would soon be developed. Nearly 25 years later, there is still no such vaccine and with about 2.5 million new HIV infections in 2007, an effective vaccine is urgently needed to contain the AIDS epidemic. Vaccines provide protection against infectious diseases by priming the immune system to deal quickly and effectively with viruses and other pathogens. Vaccines do this by exposing the immune system to an immunogen—a fragment or harmless version of the pathogen. The immune system mounts a response against the immunogen and also “learns” from this experience so that if it is ever challenged with a virulent version of the same pathogen, it can quickly contain the threat. Many vaccines work by stimulating an antibody response. Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system that bind to molecules called antigens on the surface of pathogens. Antibodies that inactivate the invader upon binding to it are called “neutralizing” antibodies.
Why Was This Study Done?
Several characteristics of HIV have hampered the development of an effective vaccine. An “envelope” protein consisting of two subunits called gp120 and gp41 covers the outside of HIV. Many regions of this protein change rapidly, so the antibody response stimulated by a vaccine containing the envelope protein of one HIV variant provides little protection against other variants. However, other regions of the protein rarely change, so a vaccine that stimulates the production of antibodies to these “conserved” regions is likely to provide protection against many HIV variants. That is, it will stimulate the production of broadly neutralizing antibodies. Unfortunately, it has been difficult to find HIV vaccines that do this, because these conserved regions are often hidden from the immune system by other parts of the envelope protein. In this study, the researchers investigate the envelope protein of an HIV-1 variant they have isolated that is highly susceptible to inactivation by antibodies specific for these conserved regions. Comparing the envelope protein of this sensitive virus to closely related envelope proteins that are resistant to neutralization could identify features that might, if included in an envelope protein immunogen, produce a vaccine capable of generating broadly neutralizing antibodies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers isolated a subtype A HIV-1 variant from a newly infected woman in Kenya that was efficiently neutralized by monoclonal antibodies (antibodies made by cells that have been cloned in the laboratory). These antibodies were specific for several different conserved regions of gp41 and gp120. The isolate was also neutralized by antibodies in blood from HIV-1-infected people. The envelope protein of the sensitive variant was the same as that of a resistant variant isolated at the same time from the woman, except for four amino acid changes in conserved regions of gp41 (proteins are made from long strings of amino acids). Using a technique called site-directed mutagenesis, the researchers introduced these amino acid changes into envelope proteins made in the laboratory and determined that just two of these changes were responsible for the neutralization sensitivity of the HIV-1 variant. The introduction of these two changes into the neutralization resistant variant and into the unrelated envelope sequences of another subtype A (common in Africa) HIV-1 variant and a subtype B HIV-1 (common in Europe and the Western Hemisphere) variant increased the sensitivity of all these viruses to antibody neutralization.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that two amino acid changes in gp41 of a neutralization-sensitive HIV-1 variant are responsible for the sensitivity of this variant to several neutralizing antibodies. The finding that the inclusion of these changes in the envelope protein of neutralization-resistant HIV-1 variants greatly increases their sensitivity to neutralizing antibodies indicates that the normally shielded regions of the protein are somehow made accessible to antibody by these changes. One possibility is that the amino acid changes might modify the overall shape of the envelope protein, thus exposing multiple, normally hidden regions in the HIV-1 envelope protein to antibodies. Importantly, these findings open up the possibility that the inclusion of these modifications in envelope-based immunogens might improve the ability of vaccines to generate broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV-1.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIVInSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including links to resources dealing with HIV vaccine development
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on all aspects of HIV and AIDS, including HIV vaccines
The US Centers for Disease Control and prevention provides information on HIV/AIDS including information on its HIV vaccine unit (in English and some information in Spanish)
The AIDS Vaccine Clearinghouse provides clear information about HIV vaccine science, research and product development
The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative also provides straightforward information about the development of HIV vaccines
PMCID: PMC2174964  PMID: 18177204
9.  Plasma IgG to Linear Epitopes in the V2 and V3 Regions of HIV-1 gp120 Correlate with a Reduced Risk of Infection in the RV144 Vaccine Efficacy Trial 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75665.
Neutralizing and non-neutralizing antibodies to linear epitopes on HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins have potential to mediate antiviral effector functions that could be beneficial to vaccine-induced protection. Here, plasma IgG responses were assessed in three HIV-1 gp120 vaccine efficacy trials (RV144, Vax003, Vax004) and in HIV-1-infected individuals by using arrays of overlapping peptides spanning the entire consensus gp160 of all major genetic subtypes and circulating recombinant forms (CRFs) of the virus. In RV144, where 31.2% efficacy against HIV-1 infection was seen, dominant responses targeted the C1, V2, V3 and C5 regions of gp120. An analysis of RV144 case-control samples showed that IgG to V2 CRF01_AE significantly inversely correlated with infection risk (OR= 0.54, p=0.0042), as did the response to other V2 subtypes (OR=0.60-0.63, p=0.016-0.025). The response to V3 CRF01_AE also inversely correlated with infection risk but only in vaccine recipients who had lower levels of other antibodies, especially Env-specific plasma IgA (OR=0.49, p=0.007) and neutralizing antibodies (OR=0.5, p=0.008). Responses to C1 and C5 showed no significant correlation with infection risk. In Vax003 and Vax004, where no significant protection was seen, serum IgG responses targeted the same epitopes as in RV144 with the exception of an additional C1 reactivity in Vax003 and infrequent V2 reactivity in Vax004. In HIV-1 infected subjects, dominant responses targeted the V3 and C5 regions of gp120, as well as the immunodominant domain, heptad repeat 1 (HR-1) and membrane proximal external region (MPER) of gp41. These results highlight the presence of several dominant linear B cell epitopes on the HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins. They also generate the hypothesis that IgG to linear epitopes in the V2 and V3 regions of gp120 are part of a complex interplay of immune responses that contributed to protection in RV144.
PMCID: PMC3784573  PMID: 24086607
10.  Association of HIV-1 Envelope-Specific Breast Milk IgA Responses with Reduced Risk of Postnatal Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV-1 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(19):9952-9961.
Infants born to HIV-1-infected mothers in resource-limited areas where replacement feeding is unsafe and impractical are repeatedly exposed to HIV-1 throughout breastfeeding. Despite this, the majority of infants do not contract HIV-1 postnatally, even in the absence of maternal antiretroviral therapy. This suggests that immune factors in breast milk of HIV-1-infected mothers help to limit vertical transmission. We compared the HIV-1 envelope-specific breast milk and plasma antibody responses of clade C HIV-1-infected postnatally transmitting and nontransmitting mothers in the control arm of the Malawi-based Breastfeeding Antiretrovirals and Nutrition Study using multivariable logistic regression modeling. We found no association between milk or plasma neutralization activity, antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity, or HIV-1 envelope-specific IgG responses and postnatal transmission risk. While the envelope-specific breast milk and plasma IgA responses also did not reach significance in predicting postnatal transmission risk in the primary model after correction for multiple comparisons, subsequent exploratory analysis using two distinct assay methodologies demonstrated that the magnitudes of breast milk total and secretory IgA responses against a consensus HIV-1 envelope gp140 (B.con env03) were associated with reduced postnatal transmission risk. These results suggest a protective role for mucosal HIV-1 envelope-specific IgA responses in the context of postnatal virus transmission. This finding supports further investigations into the mechanisms by which mucosal IgA reduces risk of HIV-1 transmission via breast milk and into immune interventions aimed at enhancing this response.
IMPORTANCE Infants born to HIV-1-infected mothers are repeatedly exposed to the virus in breast milk. Remarkably, the transmission rate is low, suggesting that immune factors in the breast milk of HIV-1-infected mothers help to limit transmission. We compared the antibody responses in plasma and breast milk of HIV-1-transmitting and -nontransmitting mothers to identify responses that correlated with reduced risk of postnatal HIV-1 transmission. We found that neither plasma nor breast milk IgG antibody responses were associated with risk of HIV-1 transmission. In contrast, the magnitudes of the breast milk IgA and secretory IgA responses against HIV-1 envelope proteins were associated with reduced risk of postnatal HIV-1 transmission. The results of this study support further investigations of the mechanisms by which mucosal IgA may reduce the risk of HIV-1 transmission via breastfeeding and the development of strategies to enhance milk envelope-specific IgA responses to reduce mother-to-child HIV transmission and promote an HIV-free generation.
PMCID: PMC4577885  PMID: 26202232
11.  Human Non-neutralizing HIV-1 Envelope Monoclonal Antibodies Limit the Number of Founder Viruses during SHIV Mucosal Infection in Rhesus Macaques 
PLoS Pathogens  2015;11(8):e1005042.
HIV-1 mucosal transmission begins with virus or virus-infected cells moving through mucus across mucosal epithelium to infect CD4+ T cells. Although broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) are the type of HIV-1 antibodies that are most likely protective, they are not induced with current vaccine candidates. In contrast, antibodies that do not neutralize primary HIV-1 strains in the TZM-bl infection assay are readily induced by current vaccine candidates and have also been implicated as secondary correlates of decreased HIV-1 risk in the RV144 vaccine efficacy trial. Here, we have studied the capacity of anti-Env monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against either the immunodominant region of gp41 (7B2 IgG1), the first constant region of gp120 (A32 IgG1), or the third variable loop (V3) of gp120 (CH22 IgG1) to modulate in vivo rectal mucosal transmission of a high-dose simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV-BaL) in rhesus macaques. 7B2 IgG1 or A32 IgG1, each containing mutations to enhance Fc function, was administered passively to rhesus macaques but afforded no protection against productive clinical infection while the positive control antibody CH22 IgG1 prevented infection in 4 of 6 animals. Enumeration of transmitted/founder (T/F) viruses revealed that passive infusion of each of the three antibodies significantly reduced the number of T/F genomes. Thus, some antibodies that bind HIV-1 Env but fail to neutralize virus in traditional neutralization assays may limit the number of T/F viruses involved in transmission without leading to enhancement of viral infection. For one of these mAbs, gp41 mAb 7B2, we provide the first co-crystal structure in complex with a common cyclical loop motif demonstrated to be critical for infection by other retroviruses.
Author Summary
Antibodies specifically recognize antigenic sites on pathogens and can mediate multiple antiviral functions through engagement of effector cells via their Fc region. Current HIV-1 vaccine candidates induce polyclonal antibody responses with multiple antiviral functions, but do not induce broadly neutralizing antibodies. An improved understanding of whether certain types of non-neutralizing HIV-1 specific antibodies can individually protect against HIV-1 infection may facilitate vaccine development. Here, we test whether non-neutralizing antibodies with multiple antiviral functions mediated through FcR engagement and recognition of virus particles or virus-infected cells can limit infection, despite lacking classical virus neutralization activity. In a passive antibody infusion-rhesus macaque challenge model, we tested the ability of non-neutralizing monoclonal antibodies to limit virus acquisition. We demonstrate that two different types of non-neutralizing antibodies, one that recognizes both virus particles and infected cells (7B2) and another that recognizes only infected cells (A32) were capable of decreasing the number of transmitted founder viruses. Further, we provide the structure of 7B2 in complex with the gp41 cyclical loop motif, a motif critical for entry. These findings provide insights into the role that antibodies with antiviral properties, including virion capture and FcR mediated effector function, may play in protecting against HIV-1 acquisition.
PMCID: PMC4523205  PMID: 26237403
12.  Tissue memory B cell repertoire analysis after ALVAC/AIDSVAX B/E gp120 immunization of rhesus macaques 
JCI Insight  null;1(20):e88522.
The ALVAC prime/ALVAC + AIDSVAX B/E boost RV144 vaccine trial induced an estimated 31% efficacy in a low-risk cohort where HIV‑1 exposures were likely at mucosal surfaces. An immune correlates study demonstrated that antibodies targeting the V2 region and in a secondary analysis antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), in the presence of low envelope-specific (Env-specific) IgA, correlated with decreased risk of infection. Thus, understanding the B cell repertoires induced by this vaccine in systemic and mucosal compartments are key to understanding the potential protective mechanisms of this vaccine regimen. We immunized rhesus macaques with the ALVAC/AIDSVAX B/E gp120 vaccine regimen given in RV144, and then gave a boost 6 months later, after which the animals were necropsied. We isolated systemic and intestinal vaccine Env-specific memory B cells. Whereas Env-specific B cell clonal lineages were shared between spleen, draining inguinal, anterior pelvic, posterior pelvic, and periaortic lymph nodes, members of Env‑specific B cell clonal lineages were absent in the terminal ileum. Env‑specific antibodies were detectable in rectal fluids, suggesting that IgG antibodies present at mucosal sites were likely systemically produced and transported to intestinal mucosal sites.
The RV144 HIV prime-boost vaccination regimen in macaques demonstrates that vaccine-specific B cell clonal lineages are absent in terminal ileum.
PMCID: PMC5135278  PMID: 27942585
13.  HIV-1 Specific IgA Detected in Vaginal Secretions of HIV Uninfected Women Participating in a Microbicide Trial in Southern Africa Are Primarily Directed Toward gp120 and gp140 Specificities 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101863.
Many participants in microbicide trials remain uninfected despite ongoing exposure to HIV-1. Determining the emergence and nature of mucosal HIV-specific immune responses in such women is important, since these responses may contribute to protection and could provide insight for the rational design of HIV-1 vaccines.
Methods and Findings
We first conducted a pilot study to compare three sampling devices (Dacron swabs, flocked nylon swabs and Merocel sponges) for detection of HIV-1-specific IgG and IgA antibodies in vaginal secretions. IgG antibodies from HIV-1-positive women reacted broadly across the full panel of eight HIV-1 envelope (Env) antigens tested, whereas IgA antibodies only reacted to the gp41 subunit. No Env-reactive antibodies were detected in the HIV-negative women. The three sampling devices yielded equal HIV-1-specific antibody titers, as well as total IgG and IgA concentrations. We then tested vaginal Dacron swabs archived from 57 HIV seronegative women who participated in a microbicide efficacy trial in Southern Africa (HPTN 035). We detected vaginal IgA antibodies directed at HIV-1 Env gp120/gp140 in six of these women, and at gp41 in another three women, but did not detect Env-specific IgG antibodies in any women.
Vaginal secretions of HIV-1 infected women contained IgG reactivity to a broad range of Env antigens and IgA reactivity to gp41. In contrast, Env-binding antibodies in the vaginal secretions of HIV-1 uninfected women participating in the microbicide trial were restricted to the IgA subtype and were mostly directed at HIV-1 gp120/gp140.
PMCID: PMC4108330  PMID: 25054205
14.  Vaccine-Induced IgG Antibodies to V1V2 Regions of Multiple HIV-1 Subtypes Correlate with Decreased Risk of HIV-1 Infection 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87572.
In the RV144 HIV-1 vaccine efficacy trial, IgG antibody (Ab) binding levels to variable regions 1 and 2 (V1V2) of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp120 were an inverse correlate of risk of HIV-1 infection. To determine if V1V2-specific Abs cross-react with V1V2 from different HIV-1 subtypes, if the nature of the V1V2 antigen used to asses cross-reactivity influenced infection risk, and to identify immune assays for upcoming HIV-1 vaccine efficacy trials, new V1V2-scaffold antigens were designed and tested. Protein scaffold antigens carrying the V1V2 regions from HIV-1 subtypes A, B, C, D or CRF01_AE were assayed in pilot studies, and six were selected to assess cross-reactive Abs in the plasma from the original RV144 case-control cohort (41 infected vaccinees, 205 frequency-matched uninfected vaccinees, and 40 placebo recipients) using ELISA and a binding Ab multiplex assay. IgG levels to these antigens were assessed as correlates of risk in vaccine recipients using weighted logistic regression models. Levels of Abs reactive with subtype A, B, C and CRF01_AE V1V2-scaffold antigens were all significant inverse correlates of risk (p-values of 0.0008–0.05; estimated odds ratios of 0.53–0.68 per 1 standard deviation increase). Thus, levels of vaccine-induced IgG Abs recognizing V1V2 regions from multiple HIV-1 subtypes, and presented on different scaffolds, constitute inverse correlates of risk for HIV-1 infection in the RV144 vaccine trial. The V1V2 antigens provide a link between RV144 and upcoming HIV-1 vaccine trials, and identify reagents and methods for evaluating V1V2 Abs as possible correlates of protection against HIV-1 infection.
Trial Registration NCT00223080
PMCID: PMC3913641  PMID: 24504509
15.  Targeted Isolation of Antibodies Directed against Major Sites of SIV Env Vulnerability 
PLoS Pathogens  2016;12(4):e1005537.
The simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) challenge model of lentiviral infection is often used as a model to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) for studying vaccine mediated and immune correlates of protection. However, knowledge of the structure of the SIV envelope (Env) glycoprotein is limited, as is knowledge of binding specificity, function and potential efficacy of SIV antibody responses. In this study we describe the use of a competitive probe binding sort strategy as well as scaffolded probes for targeted isolation of SIV Env-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). We isolated nearly 70 SIV-specific mAbs directed against major sites of SIV Env vulnerability analogous to broadly neutralizing antibody (bnAb) targets of HIV-1, namely, the CD4 binding site (CD4bs), CD4-induced (CD4i)-site, peptide epitopes in variable loops 1, 2 and 3 (V1, V2, V3) and potentially glycan targets of SIV Env. The range of SIV mAbs isolated includes those exhibiting varying degrees of neutralization breadth and potency as well as others that demonstrated binding but not neutralization. Several SIV mAbs displayed broad and potent neutralization of a diverse panel of 20 SIV viral isolates with some also neutralizing HIV-27312A. This extensive panel of SIV mAbs will facilitate more effective use of the SIV non-human primate (NHP) model for understanding the variables in development of a HIV vaccine or immunotherapy.
Author Summary
An antibody-based approach targeting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) envelope (Env) protein may eventually prove to be effective in treating or preventing HIV infection. However, before any candidate HIV treatment or vaccine can be tested in humans, it must first be evaluated in nonhuman primates (NHPs)–the closest living relatives to humans. Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) is the closest available non-chimeric virus—NHP model for studying and testing HIV vaccines or therapies. The SIV model complements the simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) model in distinctive ways, although less is known about SIV Env-specific antibody responses in NHPs. There are several sites on HIV Env that are vulnerable to antibody-mediated protection, and here we isolated and analyzed monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) from NHPs targeting analogous sites on SIV Env. In particular, we studied mAbs for their ability to bind the viral Env protein and to block infection of cells by widely divergent strains of SIV. These well-characterized SIV Env-specific antibodies will allow for more thorough NHP pre-clinical testing of various antibody-based SIV/HIV vaccine and immunotherapeutic strategies before proceeding to human clinical trials and may yield unanticipated findings relating to molecular mechanisms underlying the unusual breadth of neutralization observed in HIV-2 infection.
PMCID: PMC4827850  PMID: 27064278
16.  Mucosal Immunization of Lactating Female Rhesus Monkeys with a Transmitted/Founder HIV-1 Envelope Induces Strong Env-Specific IgA Antibody Responses in Breast Milk 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(12):6986-6999.
We previously demonstrated that vaccination of lactating rhesus monkeys with a DNA prime/vector boost strategy induces strong T-cell responses but limited envelope (Env)-specific humoral responses in breast milk. To improve vaccine-elicited antibody responses in milk, hormone-induced lactating rhesus monkeys were vaccinated with a transmitted/founder (T/F) HIV Env immunogen in a prime-boost strategy modeled after the moderately protective RV144 HIV vaccine. Lactating rhesus monkeys were intramuscularly primed with either recombinant DNA (n = 4) or modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) poxvirus vector (n = 4) expressing the T/F HIV Env C.1086 and then boosted twice intramuscularly with C.1086 gp120 and the adjuvant MF59. The vaccines induced Env-binding IgG and IgA as well as neutralizing and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) responses in plasma and milk of most vaccinated animals. Importantly, plasma neutralization titers against clade C HIV variants MW965 (P = 0.03) and CAP45 (P = 0.04) were significantly higher in MVA-primed than in DNA-primed animals. The superior systemic prime-boost regimen was then compared to a mucosal-boost regimen, in which animals were boosted twice intranasally with C.1086 gp120 and the TLR 7/8 agonist R848 following the same systemic prime. While the systemic and mucosal vaccine regimens elicited comparable levels of Env-binding IgG antibodies, mucosal immunization induced significantly stronger Env-binding IgA responses in milk (P = 0.03). However, the mucosal regimen was not as potent at inducing functional IgG responses. This study shows that systemic MVA prime followed by either intranasal or systemic protein boosts can elicit strong humoral responses in breast milk and may be a useful strategy to interrupt postnatal HIV-1 transmission.
PMCID: PMC3676124  PMID: 23596289
17.  Clinical Utility of Serologic Testing for Celiac Disease in Ontario 
Executive Summary
Objective of Analysis
The objective of this evidence-based evaluation is to assess the accuracy of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease in subjects with symptoms consistent with this disease. Furthermore the impact of these tests in the diagnostic pathway of the disease and decision making was also evaluated.
Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that develops in genetically predisposed individuals. The immunological response is triggered by ingestion of gluten, a protein that is present in wheat, rye, and barley. The treatment consists of strict lifelong adherence to a gluten-free diet (GFD).
Patients with celiac disease may present with a myriad of symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, iron deficiency anemia, dermatitis herpetiformis, among others.
Serologic Testing in the Diagnosis Celiac Disease
There are a number of serologic tests used in the diagnosis of celiac disease.
Anti-gliadin antibody (AGA)
Anti-endomysial antibody (EMA)
Anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody (tTG)
Anti-deamidated gliadin peptides antibodies (DGP)
Serologic tests are automated with the exception of the EMA test, which is more time-consuming and operator-dependent than the other tests. For each serologic test, both immunoglobulin A (IgA) or G (IgG) can be measured, however, IgA measurement is the standard antibody measured in celiac disease.
Diagnosis of Celiac Disease
According to celiac disease guidelines, the diagnosis of celiac disease is established by small bowel biopsy. Serologic tests are used to initially detect and to support the diagnosis of celiac disease. A small bowel biopsy is indicated in individuals with a positive serologic test. In some cases an endoscopy and small bowel biopsy may be required even with a negative serologic test. The diagnosis of celiac disease must be performed on a gluten-containing diet since the small intestine abnormalities and the serologic antibody levels may resolve or improve on a GFD.
Since IgA measurement is the standard for the serologic celiac disease tests, false negatives may occur in IgA-deficient individuals.
Incidence and Prevalence of Celiac Disease
The incidence and prevalence of celiac disease in the general population and in subjects with symptoms consistent with or at higher risk of celiac disease based on systematic reviews published in 2004 and 2009 are summarized below.
Incidence of Celiac Disease in the General Population
Adults or mixed population: 1 to 17/100,000/year
Children: 2 to 51/100,000/year
In one of the studies, a stratified analysis showed that there was a higher incidence of celiac disease in younger children compared to older children, i.e., 51 cases/100,000/year in 0 to 2 year-olds, 33/100,000/year in 2 to 5 year-olds, and 10/100,000/year in children 5 to 15 years old.
Prevalence of Celiac Disease in the General Population
The prevalence of celiac disease reported in population-based studies identified in the 2004 systematic review varied between 0.14% and 1.87% (median: 0.47%, interquartile range: 0.25%, 0.71%). According to the authors of the review, the prevalence did not vary by age group, i.e., adults and children.
Prevalence of Celiac Disease in High Risk Subjects
Type 1 diabetes (adults and children): 1 to 11%
Autoimmune thyroid disease: 2.9 to 3.3%
First degree relatives of patients with celiac disease: 2 to 20%
Prevalence of Celiac Disease in Subjects with Symptoms Consistent with the Disease
The prevalence of celiac disease in subjects with symptoms consistent with the disease varied widely among studies, i.e., 1.5% to 50% in adult studies, and 1.1% to 17% in pediatric studies. Differences in prevalence may be related to the referral pattern as the authors of a systematic review noted that the prevalence tended to be higher in studies whose population originated from tertiary referral centres compared to general practice.
Research Questions
What is the sensitivity and specificity of serologic tests in the diagnosis celiac disease?
What is the clinical validity of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease? The clinical validity was defined as the ability of the test to change diagnosis.
What is the clinical utility of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease? The clinical utility was defined as the impact of the test on decision making.
What is the budget impact of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease?
What is the cost-effectiveness of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease?
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on November 13th, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1st 2003 and November 13th 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Studies that evaluated diagnostic accuracy, i.e., both sensitivity and specificity of serology tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease.
Study population consisted of untreated patients with symptoms consistent with celiac disease.
Studies in which both serologic celiac disease tests and small bowel biopsy (gold standard) were used in all subjects.
Systematic reviews, meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials, prospective observational studies, and retrospective cohort studies.
At least 20 subjects included in the celiac disease group.
English language.
Human studies.
Studies published from 2000 on.
Clearly defined cut-off value for the serology test. If more than one test was evaluated, only those tests for which a cut-off was provided were included.
Description of small bowel biopsy procedure clearly outlined (location, number of biopsies per patient), unless if specified that celiac disease diagnosis guidelines were followed.
Patients in the treatment group had untreated CD.
Studies on screening of the general asymptomatic population.
Studies that evaluated rapid diagnostic kits for use either at home or in physician’s offices.
Studies that evaluated diagnostic modalities other than serologic tests such as capsule endoscopy, push enteroscopy, or genetic testing.
Cut-off for serologic tests defined based on controls included in the study.
Study population defined based on positive serology or subjects pre-screened by serology tests.
Celiac disease status known before study enrolment.
Sensitivity or specificity estimates based on repeated testing for the same subject.
Non-peer-reviewed literature such as editorials and letters to the editor.
The population consisted of adults and children with untreated, undiagnosed celiac disease with symptoms consistent with the disease.
Serologic Celiac Disease Tests Evaluated
Anti-gliadin antibody (AGA)
Anti-endomysial antibody (EMA)
Anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody (tTG)
Anti-deamidated gliadin peptides antibody (DGP)
Combinations of some of the serologic tests listed above were evaluated in some studies
Both IgA and IgG antibodies were evaluated for the serologic tests listed above.
Outcomes of Interest
Positive and negative likelihood ratios
Diagnostic odds ratio (OR)
Area under the sROC curve (AUC)
Small bowel biopsy was used as the gold standard in order to estimate the sensitivity and specificity of each serologic test.
Statistical Analysis
Pooled estimates of sensitivity, specificity and diagnostic odds ratios (DORs) for the different serologic tests were calculated using a bivariate, binomial generalized linear mixed model. Statistical significance for differences in sensitivity and specificity between serologic tests was defined by P values less than 0.05, where “false discovery rate” adjustments were made for multiple hypothesis testing. The bivariate regression analyses were performed using SAS version 9.2 (SAS Institute Inc.; Cary, NC, USA). Using the bivariate model parameters, summary receiver operating characteristic (sROC) curves were produced using Review Manager 5.0.22 (The Nordiac Cochrane Centre, The Cochrane Collaboration, 2008). The area under the sROC curve (AUC) was estimated by bivariate mixed-efects binary regression modeling framework. Model specification, estimation and prediction are carried out with xtmelogit in Stata release 10 (Statacorp, 2007). Statistical tests for the differences in AUC estimates could not be carried out.
The study results were stratified according to patient or disease characteristics such as age, severity of Marsh grade abnormalities, among others, if reported in the studies. The literature indicates that the diagnostic accuracy of serologic tests for celiac disease may be affected in patients with chronic liver disease, therefore, the studies identified through the systematic literature review that evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of serologic tests for celiac disease in patients with chronic liver disease were summarized. The effect of the GFD in patiens diagnosed with celiac disease was also summarized if reported in the studies eligible for the analysis.
Summary of Findings
Published Systematic Reviews
Five systematic reviews of studies that evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of serologic celiac disease tests were identified through our literature search. Seventeen individual studies identified in adults and children were eligible for this evaluation.
In general, the studies included evaluated the sensitivity and specificity of at least one serologic test in subjects with symptoms consistent with celiac disease. The gold standard used to confirm the celiac disease diagnosis was small bowel biopsy. Serologic tests evaluated included tTG, EMA, AGA, and DGP, using either IgA or IgG antibodies. Indirect immunoflurorescence was used for the EMA serologic tests whereas enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used for the other serologic tests.
Common symptoms described in the studies were chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, unexplained weight loss, unexplained anemia, and dermatitis herpetiformis.
The main conclusions of the published systematic reviews are summarized below.
IgA tTG and/or IgA EMA have a high accuracy (pooled sensitivity: 90% to 98%, pooled specificity: 95% to 99% depending on the pooled analysis).
Most reviews found that AGA (IgA or IgG) are not as accurate as IgA tTG and/or EMA tests.
A 2009 systematic review concluded that DGP (IgA or IgG) seems to have a similar accuracy compared to tTG, however, since only 2 studies identified evaluated its accuracy, the authors believe that additional data is required to draw firm conclusions.
Two systematic reviews also concluded that combining two serologic celiac disease tests has little contribution to the accuracy of the diagnosis.
MAS Analysis
The pooled analysis performed by MAS showed that IgA tTG has a sensitivity of 92.1% [95% confidence interval (CI) 88.0, 96.3], compared to 89.2% (83.3, 95.1, p=0.12) for IgA DGP, 85.1% (79.5, 94.4, p=0.07) for IgA EMA, and 74.9% (63.6, 86.2, p=0.0003) for IgA AGA. Among the IgG-based tests, the results suggest that IgG DGP has a sensitivity of 88.4% (95% CI: 82.1, 94.6), 44.7% (30.3, 59.2) for tTG, and 69.1% (56.0, 82.2) for AGA. The difference was significant when IgG DGP was compared to IgG tTG but not IgG AGA. Combining serologic celiac disease tests yielded a slightly higher sensitivity compared to individual IgA-based serologic tests.
IgA deficiency
The prevalence of total or severe IgA deficiency was low in the studies identified varying between 0 and 1.7% as reported in 3 studies in which IgA deficiency was not used as a referral indication for celiac disease serologic testing. The results of IgG-based serologic tests were positive in all patients with IgA deficiency in which celiac disease was confirmed by small bowel biopsy as reported in four studies.
The MAS pooled analysis indicates a high specificity across the different serologic tests including the combination strategy, pooled estimates ranged from 90.1% to 98.7% depending on the test.
Likelihood Ratios
According to the likelihood ratio estimates, both IgA tTG and serologic test combinationa were considered very useful tests (positive likelihood ratio above ten and the negative likelihood ratio below 0.1).
Moderately useful tests included IgA EMA, IgA DGP, and IgG DGP (positive likelihood ratio between five and ten and the negative likelihood ratio between 0.1 and 0.2).
Somewhat useful tests: IgA AGA, IgG AGA, generating small but sometimes important changes from pre- to post-test probability (positive LR between 2 and 5 and negative LR between 0.2 and 0.5)
Not Useful: IgG tTG, altering pre- to post-test probability to a small and rarely important degree (positive LR between 1 and 2 and negative LR between 0.5 and 1).
Diagnostic Odds Ratios (DOR)
Among the individual serologic tests, IgA tTG had the highest DOR, 136.5 (95% CI: 51.9, 221.2). The statistical significance of the difference in DORs among tests was not calculated, however, considering the wide confidence intervals obtained, the differences may not be statistically significant.
Area Under the sROC Curve (AUC)
The sROC AUCs obtained ranged between 0.93 and 0.99 for most IgA-based tests with the exception of IgA AGA, with an AUC of 0.89.
Sensitivity and Specificity of Serologic Tests According to Age Groups
Serologic test accuracy did not seem to vary according to age (adults or children).
Sensitivity and Specificity of Serologic Tests According to Marsh Criteria
Four studies observed a trend towards a higher sensitivity of serologic celiac disease tests when Marsh 3c grade abnormalities were found in the small bowel biopsy compared to Marsh 3a or 3b (statistical significance not reported). The sensitivity of serologic tests was much lower when Marsh 1 grade abnormalities were found in small bowel biopsy compared to Marsh 3 grade abnormalities. The statistical significance of these findings were not reported in the studies.
Diagnostic Accuracy of Serologic Celiac Disease Tests in Subjects with Chronic Liver Disease
A total of 14 observational studies that evaluated the specificity of serologic celiac disease tests in subjects with chronic liver disease were identified. All studies evaluated the frequency of false positive results (1-specificity) of IgA tTG, however, IgA tTG test kits using different substrates were used, i.e., human recombinant, human, and guinea-pig substrates. The gold standard, small bowel biopsy, was used to confirm the result of the serologic tests in only 5 studies. The studies do not seem to have been designed or powered to compare the diagnostic accuracy among different serologic celiac disease tests.
The results of the studies identified in the systematic literature review suggest that there is a trend towards a lower frequency of false positive results if the IgA tTG test using human recombinant substrate is used compared to the guinea pig substrate in subjects with chronic liver disease. However, the statistical significance of the difference was not reported in the studies. When IgA tTG with human recombinant substrate was used, the number of false positives seems to be similar to what was estimated in the MAS pooled analysis for IgA-based serologic tests in a general population of patients. These results should be interpreted with caution since most studies did not use the gold standard, small bowel biopsy, to confirm or exclude the diagnosis of celiac disease, and since the studies were not designed to compare the diagnostic accuracy among different serologic tests. The sensitivity of the different serologic tests in patients with chronic liver disease was not evaluated in the studies identified.
Effects of a Gluten-Free Diet (GFD) in Patients Diagnosed with Celiac Disease
Six studies identified evaluated the effects of GFD on clinical, histological, or serologic improvement in patients diagnosed with celiac disease. Improvement was observed in 51% to 95% of the patients included in the studies.
Grading of Evidence
Overall, the quality of the evidence ranged from moderate to very low depending on the serologic celiac disease test. Reasons to downgrade the quality of the evidence included the use of a surrogate endpoint (diagnostic accuracy) since none of the studies evaluated clinical outcomes, inconsistencies among study results, imprecise estimates, and sparse data. The quality of the evidence was considered moderate for IgA tTg and IgA EMA, low for IgA DGP, and serologic test combinations, and very low for IgA AGA.
Clinical Validity and Clinical Utility of Serologic Testing in the Diagnosis of Celiac Disease
The clinical validity of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease was considered high in subjects with symptoms consistent with this disease due to
High accuracy of some serologic tests.
Serologic tests detect possible celiac disease cases and avoid unnecessary small bowel biopsy if the test result is negative, unless an endoscopy/ small bowel biopsy is necessary due to the clinical presentation.
Serologic tests support the results of small bowel biopsy.
The clinical utility of serologic tests for the diagnosis of celiac disease, as defined by its impact in decision making was also considered high in subjects with symptoms consistent with this disease given the considerations listed above and since celiac disease diagnosis leads to treatment with a gluten-free diet.
Economic Analysis
A decision analysis was constructed to compare costs and outcomes between the tests based on the sensitivity, specificity and prevalence summary estimates from the MAS Evidence-Based Analysis (EBA). A budget impact was then calculated by multiplying the expected costs and volumes in Ontario. The outcome of the analysis was expected costs and false negatives (FN). Costs were reported in 2010 CAD$. All analyses were performed using TreeAge Pro Suite 2009.
Four strategies made up the efficiency frontier; IgG tTG, IgA tTG, EMA and small bowel biopsy. All other strategies were dominated. IgG tTG was the least costly and least effective strategy ($178.95, FN avoided=0). Small bowel biopsy was the most costly and most effective strategy ($396.60, FN avoided =0.1553). The cost per FN avoided were $293, $369, $1,401 for EMA, IgATTG and small bowel biopsy respectively. One-way sensitivity analyses did not change the ranking of strategies.
All testing strategies with small bowel biopsy are cheaper than biopsy alone however they also result in more FNs. The most cost-effective strategy will depend on the decision makers’ willingness to pay. Findings suggest that IgA tTG was the most cost-effective and feasible strategy based on its Incremental Cost-Effectiveness Ratio (ICER) and convenience to conduct the test. The potential impact of IgA tTG test in the province of Ontario would be $10.4M, $11.0M and $11.7M respectively in the following three years based on past volumes and trends in the province and basecase expected costs.
The panel of tests is the commonly used strategy in the province of Ontario therefore the impact to the system would be $13.6M, $14.5M and $15.3M respectively in the next three years based on past volumes and trends in the province and basecase expected costs.
The clinical validity and clinical utility of serologic tests for celiac disease was considered high in subjects with symptoms consistent with this disease as they aid in the diagnosis of celiac disease and some tests present a high accuracy.
The study findings suggest that IgA tTG is the most accurate and the most cost-effective test.
AGA test (IgA) has a lower accuracy compared to other IgA-based tests
Serologic test combinations appear to be more costly with little gain in accuracy. In addition there may be problems with generalizability of the results of the studies included in this review if different test combinations are used in clinical practice.
IgA deficiency seems to be uncommon in patients diagnosed with celiac disease.
The generalizability of study results is contingent on performing both the serologic test and small bowel biopsy in subjects on a gluten-containing diet as was the case in the studies identified, since the avoidance of gluten may affect test results.
PMCID: PMC3377499  PMID: 23074399
18.  What Do Chaotrope-Based Avidity Assays for Antibodies to HIV-1 Envelope Glycoproteins Measure? 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(11):5981-5995.
When HIV-1 vaccine candidates that include soluble envelope glycoproteins (Env) are tested in humans and other species, the resulting antibody responses to Env are sifted for correlates of protection or risk. One frequently used assay measures the reduction in antibody binding to Env antigens by an added chaotrope (such as thiocyanate). Based on that assay, an avidity index was devised for assessing the affinity maturation of antibodies of unknown concentration in polyclonal sera. Since a high avidity index was linked to protection in animal models of HIV-1 infection, it has become a criterion for evaluating antibody responses to vaccine candidates. But what does the assay measure and what does an avidity index mean? Here, we have used a panel of monoclonal antibodies to well-defined epitopes on Env (gp120, gp41, and SOSIP.664 trimers) to explore how the chaotrope acts. We conclude that the chaotrope sensitivity of antibody binding to Env depends on several properties of the epitopes (continuity versus tertiary- and quaternary-structural dependence) and that the avidity index has no simple relationship to antibody affinity for functional Env spikes on virions. We show that the binding of broadly neutralizing antibodies against quaternary-structural epitopes is particularly sensitive to chaotrope treatment, whereas antibody binding to epitopes in variable loops and to nonneutralization epitopes in gp41 is generally resistant. As a result of such biases, the avidity index may at best be a mere surrogate for undefined antibody or other immune responses that correlate weakly with protection.
IMPORTANCE An effective HIV-1 vaccine is an important goal. Such a vaccine will probably need to induce antibodies that neutralize typically transmitted variants of HIV-1, preventing them from infecting target cells. Vaccine candidates have so far failed to induce such antibody responses, although some do protect weakly against infection in animals and, possibly, humans. In the search for responses associated with protection, an avidity assay based on chemical disruption is often used to measure the strength of antibody binding. We have analyzed this assay mechanistically and found that the epitope specificity of an antibody has a greater influence on the outcome than does its affinity. As a result, the avidity assay is biased toward the detection of some antibody specificities while disfavoring others. We conclude that the assay may yield merely indirect correlations with weak protection, specifically when Env vaccination has failed to induce broad neutralizing responses.
PMCID: PMC4442429  PMID: 25810537
19.  Targeting HIV-1 Envelope Glycoprotein Trimers to B Cells by Using APRIL Improves Antibody Responses 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(5):2488-2500.
An HIV-1 vaccine remains elusive, in part because various factors limit the quantity and quality of the antibodies raised against the viral envelope glycoprotein complex (Env). We hypothesized that targeting Env vaccines directly to B cells, by fusing them to molecules that bind and activate these cells, would improve Env-specific antibody responses. Therefore, we fused trimeric Env gp140 to A PRoliferation-Inducing Ligand (APRIL), B-cell Activating Factor (BAFF), and CD40 Ligand (CD40L). The Env-APRIL, Env-BAFF, and Env-CD40L gp140 trimers all enhanced the expression of activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID), the enzyme responsible for inducing somatic hypermutation, antibody affinity maturation, and antibody class switching. They also triggered IgM, IgG, and IgA secretion from human B cells in vitro. The Env-APRIL trimers induced higher anti-Env antibody responses in rabbits, including neutralizing antibodies against tier 1 viruses. The enhanced Env-specific responses were not associated with a general increase in total plasma antibody concentrations, indicating that the effect of APRIL was specific for Env. All the rabbit sera raised against gp140 trimers, irrespective of the presence of CD40L, BAFF, or APRIL, recognized trimeric Env efficiently, whereas sera raised against gp120 monomers did not. The levels of trimer-binding and virus-neutralizing antibodies were strongly correlated, suggesting that gp140 trimers are superior to gp120 monomers as immunogens. Targeting and activating B cells with a trimeric HIV-1 Env-APRIL fusion protein may therefore improve the induction of humoral immunity against HIV-1.
PMCID: PMC3302291  PMID: 22205734
20.  HLA class II genes modulate vaccine-induced antibody responses to affect HIV-1 acquisition 
Science translational medicine  2015;7(296):296ra112.
In the RV144 vaccine trial, two antibody responses were found to correlate with HIV-1 acquisition. Because human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II–restricted CD4+ T cells are involved in antibody production, we tested whether HLA class II genotypes affected HIV-1–specific antibody levels and HIV-1 acquisition in 760 individuals. Indeed, antibody responses correlated with acquisition only in the presence of single host HLA alleles. Envelope (Env)–specific immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies were associated with increased risk of acquisition specifically in individuals with DQB1*06. IgG antibody responses to Env amino acid positions 120 to 204 were higher and were associated with decreased risk of acquisition and increased vaccine efficacy only in the presence of DPB1*13. Screening IgG responses to overlapping peptides spanning Env 120–204 and viral sequence analysis of infected individuals defined differences in vaccine response that were associated with the presence of DPB1*13 and could be responsible for the protection observed. Overall, the underlying genetic findings indicate that HLA class II modulated the quantity, quality, and efficacy of antibody responses in the RV144 trial.
PMCID: PMC4911012  PMID: 26180102
21.  HIV Impairs Opsonic Phagocytic Clearance of Pregnancy-Associated Malaria Parasites 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(5):e181.
Primigravid (PG) women are at risk for pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM). Multigravid (MG) women acquire protection against PAM; however, HIV infection impairs this protective response. Protection against PAM is associated with the production of IgG specific for variant surface antigens (VSA-PAM) expressed by chondroitin sulfate A (CSA)-adhering parasitized erythrocytes (PEs). We hypothesized that VSA-PAM-specific IgG confers protection by promoting opsonic phagocytosis of PAM isolates and that HIV infection impairs this response.
Methods and Findings
We assessed the ability of VSA-PAM-specific IgG to promote opsonic phagocytosis of CSA-adhering PEs and the impact of HIV infection on this process. Opsonic phagocytosis assays were performed using the CSA-adherent parasite line CS2 and human and murine macrophages. CS2 PEs were opsonized with plasma or purified IgG subclasses from HIV-negative or HIV-infected PG and MG Kenyan women or sympatric men. Levels of IgG subclasses specific for VSA-PAM were compared in HIV-negative and HIV-infected women by flow cytometry. Plasma from HIV-negative MG women, but not PG women or men, promoted the opsonic phagocytosis of CSA-binding PEs (p < 0.001). This function depended on VSA-PAM-specific plasma IgG1 and IgG3. HIV-infected MG women had significantly lower plasma opsonizing activity (median phagocytic index 46 [interquartile range (IQR) 18–195] versus 251 [IQR 93–397], p = 0.006) and levels of VSA-PAM-specific IgG1 (mean fluorescence intensity [MFI] 13 [IQR 11–20] versus 30 [IQR 23–41], p < 0.001) and IgG3 (MFI 17 [IQR 14–23] versus 28 [IQR 23–37], p < 0.001) than their HIV-negative MG counterparts.
Opsonic phagocytosis may represent a novel correlate of protection against PAM. HIV infection may increase the susceptibility of multigravid women to PAM by impairing this clearance mechanism.
Based on a comparison of HIV-negative or HIV-infected primigravid and multigravid women, Kevin Kain and colleagues suggest that opsonic phagocytosis might protect against pregnancy-associated malaria, and that HIV infection might impair this parasite clearance mechanism.
Editors' Summary
Every year, malaria kills more than one million people—mostly young children. Among adults, pregnant women are most affected by malaria, a parasitic disease spread by mosquitos. In areas of Africa where malaria is widespread, about 10,000 women die because of pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM) each year. In PAM, red blood cells containing parasites (parasitized erythrocytes or PEs) collect in the woman's placenta. These PEs, which stick to a placental molecule called chondroitin sulfate A (CSA), are covered with parasitic proteins known as variant surface antigens of PAM (VSA-PAM). Women in their first pregnancy (primigravid women) are particularly susceptible to PAM, but multigravid women are more resistant unless they are also infected with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), in which case they are extremely susceptible to PAM. Protection against PAM in multigravid women is associated with the production of immunoglobulins (proteins made by the immune system that circulate in the blood and bind to foreign proteins or antigens) that recognize VSA-PAM. These immunoglobulins or antibodies are called VSA-PAM-specific IgG and their production increases with each pregnancy
Why Was This Study Done?
It is unclear how VSA-PAM-specific IgG protects multigravid women against PAM or how HIV infection impairs this protective response. One possibility is that VSA-PAM-specific IgG coats the PEs in the placenta to enable immune system cells called macrophages to recognize and ingest them, a process called opsonic phagocytosis. In this study, the researchers have investigated whether opsonic phagocytosis provides multigravid women with protection against PAM and whether a failure of this form of protective immunity underlies the susceptibility of HIV-infected multigravid women to PAM.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected plasma (the fluid part of blood) from primigravid and multigravid women (some of whom were infected with HIV) living in a Kenyan region where malaria is common soon after they gave birth and from men living in the same area. They then purified IgG1, IgG2, IgG3, and IgG4 from the plasma samples. These four IgG subclasses have different immune functions—only IgG1 and IgG3 participate in opsonic phagocytosis. To measure the ability of the plasma samples and purified IgGs to promote opsonic phagocytosis, the researchers mixed each sample with a laboratory isolate of CSA-binding PEs and macrophages and counted how many PEs the macrophages ingested. Plasma from HIV-negative multigravid women but not primigravid women or men promoted opsonic phagocytosis and, in the plasma from multigravid women, this activity depended on IgG1 and IgG3. HIV-infected multigravid women, however, had less opsonizing activity in their plasma than HIV-negative multigravid women and the level of this activity correlated with the levels of VSA-PAM-specific IgG1 and IgG3 (measured using a technique called flow cytometry) in the plasma samples of these two groups of women.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings support the hypothesis that VSA-PAM-specific IgG1 and IgG3 promote opsonic clearance of CSA-binding PEs. Thus, opsonic immune mechanisms may be involved in the protective response to PAM seen in multigravid women. However, because all the measurements of opsonic phagocytosis in this study used a laboratory isolate of PEs, these findings need to be confirmed using PEs isolated from placentas to check that they are generalizable. Other findings reported here suggest that HIV-positive multigravid women are more susceptible to PAM than HIV-negative multigravid women because reduced amounts of VSA-PAM-specific IgG in their plasma reduce the ability of opsonic phagocytosis to clear PEs from their placenta. Overall, these results may have implications for the development of vaccines against PAM. For example, they suggest that vaccines should be designed to stimulate the production of VSA-PAM-specific antibodies of the IgG1 and IgG3 subclasses. They also suggest that, provided the link between opsonic phagocytosis and protection against PAM can be confirmed in population-based studies, new vaccines could be evaluated for their potential to protect women against PAM by seeing whether the plasma of vaccinees promotes opsonic phagocytosis of CSA-binding PEs.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information on malaria and malaria during pregnancy (in English and Spanish)
World Health Organization information on malaria, including a feature on malaria in pregnancy (in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese and Russian)
Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) information on malaria and research into the disease
Roll Back Malaria Partnership fact sheets on all aspects of malaria, including malaria in pregnancy (in English, French and Portuguese)
HIV Insite, information from the University of California at San Francisco on malaria and HIV
PMCID: PMC1880852  PMID: 17535103
22.  FCGR2C polymorphisms associate with HIV-1 vaccine protection in RV144 trial 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(9):3879-3890.
The phase III RV144 HIV-1 vaccine trial estimated vaccine efficacy (VE) to be 31.2%. This trial demonstrated that the presence of HIV-1–specific IgG-binding Abs to envelope (Env) V1V2 inversely correlated with infection risk, while the presence of Env-specific plasma IgA Abs directly correlated with risk of HIV-1 infection. Moreover, Ab-dependent cellular cytotoxicity responses inversely correlated with risk of infection in vaccine recipients with low IgA; therefore, we hypothesized that vaccine-induced Fc receptor–mediated (FcR-mediated) Ab function is indicative of vaccine protection. We sequenced exons and surrounding areas of FcR-encoding genes and found one FCGR2C tag SNP (rs114945036) that associated with VE against HIV-1 subtype CRF01_AE, with lysine at position 169 (169K) in the V2 loop (CRF01_AE 169K). Individuals carrying CC in this SNP had an estimated VE of 15%, while individuals carrying CT or TT exhibited a VE of 91%. Furthermore, the rs114945036 SNP was highly associated with 3 other FCGR2C SNPs (rs138747765, rs78603008, and rs373013207). Env-specific IgG and IgG3 Abs, IgG avidity, and neutralizing Abs inversely correlated with CRF01_AE 169K HIV-1 infection risk in the CT- or TT-carrying vaccine recipients only. These data suggest a potent role of Fc-γ receptors and Fc-mediated Ab function in conferring protection from transmission risk in the RV144 VE trial.
PMCID: PMC4151214  PMID: 25105367
23.  An Enhanced Synthetic Multiclade DNA Prime Induces Improved Cross-Clade-Reactive Functional Antibodies when Combined with an Adjuvanted Protein Boost in Nonhuman Primates 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(18):9154-9166.
The search for an efficacious human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccine remains a pressing need. The moderate success of the RV144 Thai clinical vaccine trial suggested that vaccine-induced HIV-1-specific antibodies can reduce the risk of HIV-1 infection. We have made several improvements to the DNA platform and have previously shown that improved DNA vaccines alone are capable of inducing both binding and neutralizing antibodies in small-animal models. In this study, we explored how an improved DNA prime and recombinant protein boost would impact HIV-specific vaccine immunogenicity in rhesus macaques (RhM). After DNA immunization with either a single HIV Env consensus sequence or multiple constructs expressing HIV subtype-specific Env consensus sequences, we detected both CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses to all vaccine immunogens. These T-cell responses were further increased after protein boosting to levels exceeding those of DNA-only or protein-only immunization. In addition, we observed antibodies that exhibited robust cross-clade binding and neutralizing and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) activity after immunization with the DNA prime-protein boost regimen, with the multiple-Env formulation inducing a more robust and broader response than the single-Env formulation. The magnitude and functionality of these responses emphasize the strong priming effect improved DNA immunogens can induce, which are further expanded upon protein boost. These results support further study of an improved synthetic DNA prime together with a protein boost for enhancing anti-HIV immune responses.
IMPORTANCE Even with effective antiretroviral drugs, HIV remains an enormous global health burden. Vaccine development has been problematic in part due to the high degree of diversity and poor immunogenicity of the HIV Env protein. Studies suggest that a relevant HIV vaccine will likely need to induce broad cellular and humoral responses from a simple vaccine regimen due to the resource-limited setting in which the HIV pandemic is most rampant. DNA vaccination lends itself well to increasing the amount of diversity included in a vaccine due to the ease of manufacturing multiple plasmids and formulating them as a single immunization. By increasing the number of Envs within a formulation, we were able to show an increased breadth of responses as well as improved functionality induced in a nonhuman primate model. This increased breadth could be built upon, leading to better coverage against circulating strains with broader vaccine-induced protection.
PMCID: PMC4542352  PMID: 26085155
24.  Comprehensive Sieve Analysis of Breakthrough HIV-1 Sequences in the RV144 Vaccine Efficacy Trial 
PLoS Computational Biology  2015;11(2):e1003973.
The RV144 clinical trial showed the partial efficacy of a vaccine regimen with an estimated vaccine efficacy (VE) of 31% for protecting low-risk Thai volunteers against acquisition of HIV-1. The impact of vaccine-induced immune responses can be investigated through sieve analysis of HIV-1 breakthrough infections (infected vaccine and placebo recipients). A V1/V2-targeted comparison of the genomes of HIV-1 breakthrough viruses identified two V2 amino acid sites that differed between the vaccine and placebo groups. Here we extended the V1/V2 analysis to the entire HIV-1 genome using an array of methods based on individual sites, k-mers and genes/proteins. We identified 56 amino acid sites or “signatures” and 119 k-mers that differed between the vaccine and placebo groups. Of those, 19 sites and 38 k-mers were located in the regions comprising the RV144 vaccine (Env-gp120, Gag, and Pro). The nine signature sites in Env-gp120 were significantly enriched for known antibody-associated sites (p = 0.0021). In particular, site 317 in the third variable loop (V3) overlapped with a hotspot of antibody recognition, and sites 369 and 424 were linked to CD4 binding site neutralization. The identified signature sites significantly covaried with other sites across the genome (mean = 32.1) more than did non-signature sites (mean = 0.9) (p < 0.0001), suggesting functional and/or structural relevance of the signature sites. Since signature sites were not preferentially restricted to the vaccine immunogens and because most of the associations were insignificant following correction for multiple testing, we predict that few of the genetic differences are strongly linked to the RV144 vaccine-induced immune pressure. In addition to presenting results of the first complete-genome analysis of the breakthrough infections in the RV144 trial, this work describes a set of statistical methods and tools applicable to analysis of breakthrough infection genomes in general vaccine efficacy trials for diverse pathogens.
Author Summary
We present an analysis of the genomes of the HIV viruses that infected some participants of the RV144 Thai trial, which was the first study to show efficacy of a vaccine to prevent HIV infection. We analyzed the HIV genomes of infected vaccine recipients and infected placebo recipients, and found differences between them. These differences coincide with previously-studied genetic features that are relevant to the biology of HIV infection, including features involved in immune recognition of the virus. The findings presented here generate testable hypotheses about the mechanism of the partial protection seen in the Thai trial, and may ultimately lead to improved vaccines. The article also presents a toolkit of methods for computational analyses that can be applied to other vaccine efficacy trials.
PMCID: PMC4315437  PMID: 25646817
25.  Diversification in the HIV-1 Envelope Hyper-variable Domains V2, V4, and V5 and Higher Probability of Transmitted/Founder Envelope Glycosylation Favor the Development of Heterologous Neutralization Breadth 
PLoS Pathogens  2016;12(11):e1005989.
A recent study of plasma neutralization breadth in HIV-1 infected individuals at nine International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) sites reported that viral load, HLA-A*03 genotype, and subtype C infection were strongly associated with the development of neutralization breadth. Here, we refine the findings of that study by analyzing the impact of the transmitted/founder (T/F) envelope (Env), early Env diversification, and autologous neutralization on the development of plasma neutralization breadth in 21 participants identified during recent infection at two of those sites: Kigali, Rwanda (n = 9) and Lusaka, Zambia (n = 12). Single-genome analysis of full-length T/F Env sequences revealed that all 21 individuals were infected with a highly homogeneous population of viral variants, which were categorized as subtype C (n = 12), A1 (n = 7), or recombinant AC (n = 2). An extensive amino acid sequence-based analysis of variable loop lengths and glycosylation patterns in the T/F Envs revealed that a lower ratio of NXS to NXT-encoded glycan motifs correlated with neutralization breadth. Further analysis comparing amino acid sequence changes, insertions/deletions, and glycan motif alterations between the T/F Env and autologous early Env variants revealed that extensive diversification focused in the V2, V4, and V5 regions of gp120, accompanied by contemporaneous viral escape, significantly favored the development of breadth. These results suggest that more efficient glycosylation of subtype A and C T/F Envs through fewer NXS-encoded glycan sites is more likely to elicit antibodies that can transition from autologous to heterologous neutralizing activity following exposure to gp120 diversification. This initiates an Env-antibody co-evolution cycle that increases neutralization breadth, and is further augmented over time by additional viral and host factors. These findings suggest that understanding how variation in the efficiency of site-specific glycosylation influences neutralizing antibody elicitation and targeting could advance the design of immunogens aimed at inducing antibodies that can transition from autologous to heterologous neutralizing activity.
Author Summary
HIV-1 has proven difficult to vaccinate against due to its ability to generate high levels of genetic diversity, particularly in the envelope glycoproteins. An ideal prophylactic vaccine would therefore elicit immune responses capable of blocking the full range of HIV-1 variants to which a population might be exposed. An essential component of protective immunity against HIV-1 is likely to be an antibody response that is capable of neutralizing genetically diverse HIV-1 viral variants. In an effort to understand how this type of ‘broad’ antibody response develops during natural HIV-1 infection, a large cohort study recently found that certain factors, such as high viral load, HLA-A*03 genotype, and subtype C infection, were correlated with the development of greater neutralization breadth. Here we investigated the viral envelope proteins and antibody responses in early infection in a small subset of individuals from two of the African sites included in the larger cohort study. We found that a marker for the efficiency of envelope glycosylation in the infecting viral variant was strongly correlated with the development of antibodies with greater neutralization breadth. We also found that extensive viral changes in the V2, V4, and V5 regions of the envelope gp120 protein, were strongly associated with the development of antibodies with greater neutralization breadth. Based on these results, we propose that more efficient glycosylation of the envelope protein of the infecting viral variant elicits neutralizing antibodies that drive early and complex amino acid changes in gp120, which triggers the development of antibodies whose neutralization breadth can be augmented over time by additional viral and host factors. These findings suggest that a better understanding of the efficiency of envelope glycosylation in HIV-1 could inform current vaccine strategies aimed at eliciting antibodies with neutralization breadth.
PMCID: PMC5112890  PMID: 27851829

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