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.
The detailed examination of the antibody repertoire from RV144 provides a unique template for understanding potentially protective antibody functions. Some potential immune correlates of protection were untested in the correlates analyses due to inherent assay limitations, as well as the need to keep the correlates analysis focused on a limited number of endpoints to achieve statistical power. In an RV144 pilot study, we determined that RV144 vaccination elicited antibodies that could bind infectious virions (including the vaccine strains HIV-1 CM244 and HIV-1 MN and an HIV-1 strain expressing transmitted/founder Env, B.WITO.c). Among vaccinees with the highest IgG binding antibody profile, the majority (78%) captured the infectious vaccine strain virus (CM244), while a smaller proportion of vaccinees (26%) captured HIV-1 transmitted/founder Env virus. We demonstrated that vaccine-elicited HIV-1 gp120 antibodies of multiple specificities (V3, V2, conformational C1, and gp120 conformational) mediated capture of infectious virions. Although capture of infectious HIV-1 correlated with other humoral immune responses, the extent of variation between these humoral responses and virion capture indicates that virion capture antibodies occupy unique immunological space.
A safe, efficacious vaccine is required to stop the AIDS pandemic. Disappointing results from the STEP trial implied a need to include humoral anti-HIV-1 responses, a notion supported by RV144 trial data even though correlates of protection are unknown. We vaccinated rhesus macaques with recombinant simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) Gag-Pol particles, HIV-1 Tat and trimeric clade C (HIV-C) gp160, which induced cross-neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) and robust cellular immune responses. After five low-dose mucosal challenges with a simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) that encoded a heterologous R5 HIV-C envelope (22.1% divergence from the gp160 immunogen), 94% of controls became viremic, whereas one third of vaccinees remained virus-free. Upon high-dose SHIV rechallenge, all controls became infected, whereas some vaccinees remained aviremic. Peak viremia was inversely correlated with both cellular immunity (p<0.001) and cross-nAb titers (p<0.001). These data simultaneously linked cellular as well as humoral immune responses with the degree of protection for the first time.
The RV144 clinical trial of a prime/boost immunizing regimen using recombinant canary pox (ALVAC-HIV) and two gp120 proteins (AIDSVAX B and E) was previously shown to have a 31.2% efficacy rate. Plasma specimens from vaccine and placebo recipients were used in an extensive set of assays to identify correlates of HIV-1 infection risk. Of six primary variables that were studied, only one displayed a significant inverse correlation with risk of infection: the antibody (Ab) response to a fusion protein containing the V1 and V2 regions of gp120 (gp70-V1V2). This finding prompted a thorough examination of the results generated with the complete panel of 13 assays measuring various V2 Abs in the stored plasma used in the initial pilot studies and those used in the subsequent case-control study. The studies revealed that the ALVAC-HIV/AIDSVAX vaccine induced V2-specific Abs that cross-react with multiple HIV-1 subgroups and recognize both conformational and linear epitopes. The conformational epitope was present on gp70-V1V2, while the predominant linear V2 epitope mapped to residues 165–178, immediately N-terminal to the putative α4β7 binding motif in the mid-loop region of V2. Odds ratios (ORs) were calculated to compare the risk of infection with data from 12 V2 assays, and in 11 of these, the ORs were ≤1, reaching statistical significance for two of the variables: Ab responses to gp70-V1V2 and to overlapping V2 linear peptides. It remains to be determined whether anti-V2 Ab responses were directly responsible for the reduced infection rate in RV144 and whether anti-V2 Abs will prove to be important with other candidate HIV vaccines that show efficacy, however, the results support continued dissection of Ab responses to the V2 region which may illuminate mechanisms of protection from HIV-1 infection and may facilitate the development of an effective HIV-1 vaccine.
The Thai HIV phase III prime-boost trial (RV144) using ALVAC-HIV® (vCP1521) and AIDSVAX B/E® was, to our knowledge, the first to demonstrate acquisition efficacy. Vaccine-induced, cell-mediated immune responses were assessed. T cell epitope mapping studies using IFN-γ ELISPOT were performed on PBMC from HIV-1 uninfected vaccine (N=61) and placebo (N=10) recipients using HIV-1 Env peptides. Positive responses were measured in 25 (41%) vaccinees and were predominantly CD4+ T cell mediated. Responses were targeted within the HIV Env region, with 15/25 (60%) of vaccinees recognizing peptides derived from the V2 region of HIV-1 Env, which includes the α4β7 integrin binding site. Intracellular cytokine staining confirmed that Env responses predominated (19/30; 63% of vaccine recipients) and were mediated by polyfunctional effector memory CD4+ T cells, with the majority of responders producing both IL-2 and IFN-γ (12/19; 63%). HIV-Env Ab titers were higher in subjects with IL-2 compared to those without IL-2 secreting HIV-Env specific effector memory T cells. Proliferation assays revealed that HIV Ag-specific T cells were CD4+ with the majority (80%) expressing CD107a. HIV-specific T cell lines obtained from vaccine recipients confirmed V2 specificity, polyfunctionality and functional cytolytic capacity. While the RV144 T cell responses were modest in frequency compared to humoral immune responses, the CD4+ T cell response was directed to HIV-1 Env and more particularly the V2 region.
Human; Vaccination; Viral; AIDS; HIV-1; T cells
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.
All human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine efficacy trials to date have ended in failure. Structural features of the Env glycoprotein and its enormous variability have frustrated efforts to induce broadly reactive neutralizing antibodies. To explore the extent to which vaccine-induced cellular immune responses, in the absence of neutralizing antibodies, can control replication of a heterologous, mucosal viral challenge, we vaccinated eight macaques with a DNA/Ad5 regimen expressing all of the proteins of SIVmac239 except Env. Vaccinees mounted high-frequency T-cell responses against 11 to 34 epitopes. We challenged the vaccinees and eight naïve animals with the heterologous biological isolate SIVsmE660, using a regimen intended to mimic typical HIV exposures resulting in infection. Viral loads in the vaccinees were significantly less at both the peak (1.9-log reduction; P < 0.03) and at the set point (2.6-log reduction; P < 0.006) than those in control naïve animals. Five of eight vaccinated macaques controlled acute peak viral replication to less than 80,000 viral RNA (vRNA) copy eq/ml and to less than 100 vRNA copy eq/ml in the chronic phase. Our results demonstrate that broad vaccine-induced cellular immune responses can effectively control replication of a pathogenic, heterologous AIDS virus, suggesting that T-cell-based vaccines may have greater potential than previously appreciated.
The recombinant canarypox vector, ALVAC-HIV, together with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) gp120 envelope glycoprotein, has protected 31.2% of Thai individuals from HIV acquisition in the RV144 HIV vaccine trial. This outcome was unexpected, given the limited ability of the vaccine components to induce CD8+ T-cell responses or broadly neutralizing antibodies. We vaccinated macaques with an immunization regimen intended to mimic the RV144 trial and exposed them intrarectally to a dose of the simian immunodeficiency virus SIVmac251 that transmits few virus variants, similar to HIV transmission to humans. Vaccination induced anti-envelope antibodies in all vaccinees and CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses. Three of the 11 macaques vaccinated with ALVAC-SIV/gp120 were protected from SIVmac251 acquisition, but the result was not significant. The remaining vaccinees were infected and progressed to disease. The magnitudes of vaccine-induced SIVmac251-specific T-cell responses and binding antibodies were not significantly different between protected and infected animals. However, sera from protected animals had higher avidity antibodies to gp120, recognized the variable envelope regions V1/V2, and reduced SIVmac251 infectivity in cells that express high levels of α4β7 integrins, suggesting a functional role of antibodies to V2. The current results emphasize the utility of determining the titer of repeated mucosal challenge in the preclinical evaluation of HIV vaccines.
Prophylactic hepatitis C virus (HCV) vaccine trials with human volunteers are pending. There is an important need for immunological end points which correlate with vaccine efficacy and which do not involve invasive procedures, such as liver biopsies. By using a multicomponent DNA priming-protein boosting vaccine strategy, naïve chimpanzees were immunized against HCV structural proteins (core, E1, and E2) as well as a nonstructural (NS3) protein. Following immunization, exposure to the heterologous HCV 1b J4 subtype resulted in a peak of plasma viremia which was lower in both immunized animals. Compared to the naïve infection control and nine additional historical controls which became chronic, vaccinee 2 (Vac2) rapidly resolved the infection, while the other (Vac1) clearly controlled HCV infection. Immunization induced antibodies, peptide-specific gamma interferon (IFN-γ), protein-specific lymphoproliferative responses, IFN-γ, interleukin-2 (IL-2), and IL-4 T-helper responses in both vaccinees. However, the specificities were markedly different: Vac2 developed responses which were lower in magnitude than those of Vac1 but which were biased towards Th1-type cytokine responses for E1 and NS3. This proof-of-principle study in chimpanzees revealed that immunization with a combination of nonstructural and structural antigens elicited T-cell responses associated with an alteration of the course of infection. Our findings provide data to support the concept that the quality of the response to conserved epitopes and the specific nature of the peripheral T-helper immune response are likely pivotal factors influencing the control and clearance of HCV infection.
The RV144 trial demonstrated 31% vaccine efficacy (VE) at preventing HIV-1 infection1. Antibodies against the HIV-1 envelope variable loops 1 and 2 (V1/V2) domain correlated inversely with infection risk2. We hypothesized that vaccine-induced immune responses against V1/V2 would selectively impact, or sieve, HIV-1 breakthrough viruses. 936 HIV-1 genome sequences from 44 vaccine and 66 placebo recipients were examined. We show that vaccine-induced immune responses were associated with two signatures in V1/V2 at amino-acid positions 169 and 181. VE against viruses matching the vaccine at position 169 was 48% (CI: 18 to 66%; p=0.0036), whereas VE against viruses mismatching the vaccine at position 181 was 78% (CI: 35% to 93%; p=0.0028). Residue 169 is in a cationic glycosylated region recognized by broadly neutralizing and RV144-derived antibodies. The predicted distance between the two signatures sites (21±7 Å), and their match/mismatch dichotomy, suggest that multiple factors may be involved in the protection observed in RV144. Genetic signatures of RV144 vaccination in V2 complement the finding of an association between high V1/V2 binding antibodies and reduced risk of HIV-1 acquisition and provide evidence that vaccine-induced V2 responses plausibly played a role in the partial protection conferred by the RV144 regimen.
Successful conduct of HIV vaccine efficacy trials entails identification and enrollment of at-risk populations, assessment of appropriate endpoints as measures of vaccine efficacy for prevention of HIV acquisition and amelioration of disease course among infected vaccinees, as well as identification of potential confounders or effect modifiers. While not invariably useful and bringing their own cost in terms of measurement and validation, a variety of biomarkers may aid at each stage of trial conduct.
A review of selected articles, chosen based on quality, relevance of the biomarker to HIV vaccine trials, and availability of the publication, was conducted. The authors also drew experience from current trials and other planned or ongoing trials.
Biomarkers are available to assess HIV incidence in potential study populations but care is needed in interpreting results of these assays. During trial conduct, STIs such as HSV-2 may act as effect modifiers on primary and secondary endpoints, including HIV incidence and set point viral load. The utility of STI biomarkers will likely depend heavily on local epidemiology at clinical trial sites. Analyses from recent large HIV vaccine efficacy trials point to the complexities in interpreting trial results and underscore the potential utility of biomarkers in evaluating confounding and effect modification.
HIV vaccine trials; HIV incidence; biomarkers; randomized controlled trials; STIs; hepatitis
The yellow fever vaccines (YF-17D-204 and 17DD) are considered to be among the safest vaccines and the presence of neutralizing antibodies is correlated with protection, although other immune effector mechanisms are known to be involved. T-cell responses are known to play an important role modulating antibody production and the killing of infected cells. However, little is known about the repertoire of T-cell responses elicited by the YF-17DD vaccine in humans. In this report, a library of 653 partially overlapping 15-mer peptides covering the envelope (Env) and nonstructural (NS) proteins 1 to 5 of the vaccine was utilized to perform a comprehensive analysis of the virus-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses. The T-cell responses were screened ex-vivo by IFN-γ ELISPOT assays using blood samples from 220 YF-17DD vaccinees collected two months to four years after immunization. Each peptide was tested in 75 to 208 separate individuals of the cohort. The screening identified sixteen immunodominant antigens that elicited activation of circulating memory T-cells in 10% to 33% of the individuals. Biochemical in-vitro binding assays and immunogenetic and immunogenicity studies indicated that each of the sixteen immunogenic 15-mer peptides contained two or more partially overlapping epitopes that could bind with high affinity to molecules of different HLAs. The prevalence of the immunogenicity of a peptide in the cohort was correlated with the diversity of HLA-II alleles that they could bind. These findings suggest that overlapping of HLA binding motifs within a peptide enhances its T-cell immunogenicity and the prevalence of the response in the population. In summary, the results suggests that in addition to factors of the innate immunity, “promiscuous” T-cell antigens might contribute to the high efficacy of the yellow fever vaccines.
T-cell responses are considered to be very important; however, the role of T-cell responses in vaccine mediated immunity is still controversial. One reason may be that most studies of human T-cell responses are focused on a few epitopes. We still lack a systematic view of the repertoire of peptides presented by the different HLA class I and II molecules and how the peptides presented by the different HLAs interact within the host to develop T-cell responses. Here we present a study of the T-cell responses against the YF-17DD vaccine in the context of a cohort of 220 volunteers and observed that the most prevalent T-cell responses are targeted at peptides that bind to multiple types of HLA molecules. Based on these results we postulate that promiscuous T-cell epitopes might have a critical role in the development of adaptive immunity. These results may have broader implications for other pathogens, since the yellow fever vaccine is currently being developed as a vaccine vector for other diseases. Therefore, these epitopes might have a functionally cooperative role in boosting specific neutralizing antibody responses. In addition, we propose that promiscuous T-cell antigens may be better immunogens for vaccine development; however more studies are necessary.
Adenoviral based vectors remain promising vaccine platforms for use against numerous pathogens, including HIV. Recent vaccine trials utilizing Adenovirus based vaccines expressing HIV antigens confirmed induction of cellular immune responses, but these responses failed to prevent HIV infections in vaccinees. This illustrates the need to develop vaccine formulations capable of generating more potent T-cell responses to HIV antigens, such as HIV-Gag, since robust immune responses to this antigen correlate with improved outcomes in long-term non-progressor HIV infected individuals.
In this study we designed a novel vaccine strategy utilizing an Ad-based vector expressing a potent TLR agonist derived from Eimeria tenella as an adjuvant to improve immune responses from a [E1-]Ad-based HIV-Gag vaccine. Our results confirm that expression of rEA elicits significantly increased TLR mediated innate immune responses as measured by the influx of plasma cytokines and chemokines, and activation of innate immune responding cells. Furthermore, our data show that the quantity and quality of HIV-Gag specific CD8+ and CD8− T-cell responses were significantly improved when coupled with rEA expression. These responses also correlated with a significantly increased number of HIV-Gag derived epitopes being recognized by host T cells. Finally, functional assays confirmed that rEA expression significantly improved antigen specific CTL responses, in vivo. Moreover, we show that these improved responses were dependent upon improved TLR pathway interactions.
The data presented in this study illustrate the potential utility of Ad-based vectors expressing TLR agonists to improve clinical outcomes dependent upon induction of robust, antigen specific immune responses.
Humoral antibody response to three types of rabies vaccines were assayed by the neutralization (NT), the mixed hemadsorption (MH), and the indirect immunofluorescence (IF) tests. The NT and MH tests were used to detect antibodies combining with antigens at the surface of virions and infected cells, whereas the indirect IF test measured antibodies mainly to the rabies nucleocapsid antigen. After immunization with a human diploid cell vaccine, antibodies were detected by both the NT and the MH test in the 14th- and 30th-day serum samples from each of eight vaccinated persons. There was a good correlation between titers obtained with the two tests in this group of vaccinees. Antibodies elicited by duck embryo and nervous tissue vaccines occurred less frequently and in lower titers. In these groups of vaccinees, 5 of 14 and 5 of 10, respectively, had antibodies detectable by the NT test in the 14th- and 30th-day sera but were negative by the MH test. It is suggested that this was due to the high levels of immunoglobulin M antibodies, which are known to be elicited by daily injections of vaccine. Since antibodies of the immunoglobulin M class are considered to be less important for protection against rabies, the MH test is recommended for immunity determinations. Compared with the NT test, this test also offers the advantage of being technically more convenient because of its capacity for testing numerous sera in a single run. Antibody titers obtained by the indirect IF test in the human diploid cell vaccine group were relatively low. Titers in the duck embryo and nervous tissue vaccine groups were higher but did not correlate with the results of the NT test.
Studies of the immunologic responses following administration of a live, enteric-coated adenovirus (ADV) type 21 vaccine showed that nine of ten vaccinees and none of five controls developed neutralizing antibody. Antibody activity of serum and secretory immunoglobulins was assayed by using a 14C-labeled ADV-21 antigen in a radioimmunodiffusion system. Increases in immunoglobulin M, A and G (IgM, IgA, IgG) activity were detected in sera from vaccinees but not in those from controls. IgA copro antibody activity was also shown in vaccinees but not in controls. Nasal secretions showed no detectable IgA antibody responses by this method. These studies show marked differences in serum and local IgA antibody activity in induced enteric ADV infection compared to previously reported responses after natural infection. The protective role of secretory IgA in adenovirus infections is obscure. However, absence of nasal IgA responses may indicate that protection against disease with enteric ADV vaccines depends primarily upon humoral antibody.
There is a need for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening assays which will distinguish uninfected HIV vaccine recipients from HIV-infected individuals. Commercial screening kits were used to test serum samples from low- and high-risk participants in clinical trials before and after immunization with various recombinant HIV type 1 (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein 120 (gp120) candidate vaccines. All kits were 100% sensitive in detecting HIV infection. Both Murex Single Use Diagnostic System and United Biomedical, Inc., HIV type 1 or 2 (HIV-1/2) enzyme immunoassay (EIA) kits, which detect antibodies to HIV-1 gp41, were 98 to 100% specific when used to screen baseline or recombinant gp120-vaccinated populations as vaccine-induced antibodies to gp120 were nonreactive in these tests. The Abbott HIVAB HIV-1 EIA (lysate of whole infected cells, reactive with anti-gp120 antibodies) gave high levels of reactivity due to vaccine-induced antibodies and a high baseline rate of false positives (12 of 83) among nonvaccinated high-risk volunteers. Assays containing only gp41 and p24 solid-phase components are compatible with gp120-based vaccines but are unlikely to be useful in a similar role for vaccines containing gp160, gp41, or gp120 plus p24 antigens. Efficacy trials must be designed in concert with available diagnostic screening assays to avoid problems caused by vaccine-induced seroconversion in high-risk populations.
Purpose of Review
An effective HIV vaccine is a global health priority. We describe lessons learned from four HIV vaccine trials that failed to demonstrate efficacy and one that showed modest protection as a pathway forward.
The Merck Ad5 phase IIb T-cell vaccine failed to show efficacy and might have increased the risk of HIV acquisition in MSM. While VaxGen gp120 alone was not efficacious in groups at high risk for HIV-1 infection, the RV144 ALVAC prime and gp120 boost regimen showed 31% efficacy in low incidence heterosexuals. All trials demonstrated the limitations of available laboratory and animal models to both assess relevant vaccine-induced immune responses and to predict clinical trial outcome. Analysis of innate and adaptive responses induced in RV 144 will guide future trial design.
Future HIV vaccine trials should define the RV 144 immune responses relevant to protection, improve durability and level of protection, and assess efficacy in diverse risk groups. New strategies examining heterologous vector prime boost, universal inserts, replicating vectors, and novel protein/adjuvant immunogens should be explored to induce both T-cell and antibody responses. HIV vaccine development requires innovative ideas and a sustained long-term commitment of scientists, governments, and the community.
HIV; vaccine; Thailand; clinical trial; efficacy
To identify immunological predictors of resistance to influenza A infection and illness, the immunological status of live and inactivated virus vaccines subsequently challenged with H1N1 or H3N2 wild-type virus was examined. We refer to prechallenge antibodies of vaccinees receiving live attenuated virus as infection induced and those receiving inactivated virus as inactivated vaccine induced. Inactivated vaccine-induced protection against wild-type virus infection or illness correlated with the level of neuraminidase-inhibiting antibody in serum, local hemagglutinin immunoglobulin G (IgG) (but not IgA) enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay antibody, and hemagglutination-inhibiting antibody in serum. In contrast, infection-induced resistance to wild-type virus infection correlated with local hemagglutinin IgA antibody and neuraminidase-inhibiting antibody in serum, but not with hemagglutination-inhibiting antibody in serum. These observations suggest that live vaccine virus infection-induced and inactivated vaccine-induced immunity may involve different compartments of the immune system; sufficient antibody in either serum or nasal secretions is capable of conferring resistance.
All current human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine candidates contain multiple viral components and elicit antibodies that react positively in licensed HIV diagnostic tests, which contain similar viral products. Thus, vaccine trial participants could be falsely diagnosed as infected with HIV. Additionally, uninfected, seropositive vaccinees may encounter long-term social and economic harms. Moreover, this also interferes with early detection of true HIV infections during preventive HIV vaccine trials. An HIV-seropositive test result among uninfected vaccine trial participants is a major public health concern for volunteers who want to participate in future HIV vaccine trials. Based on the increased number of HIV vaccines being tested globally, it is essential to differentiate vaccine- from virus-induced antibodies. Using a whole-HIV-genome phage display library, we identified conserved sequences in Env-gp41 and Gag-p6 which are recognized soon after infection, do not contain protective epitopes, and are not part of most current HIV vaccines. We established a new HIV serodetection assay based on these peptides. To date, this assay, termed HIV-SELECTEST, demonstrates >99% specificity and sensitivity. Importantly, in testing of plasma samples from multiple HIV vaccine trials, uninfected trial participants scored negative, while all intercurrent infections were detected within 1 to 3 months of HIV infection. The new HIV-SELECTEST is a simple but robust diagnostic tool for easy implementation in HIV vaccine trials and blood banks worldwide.
Studies of the immune response to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have been hampered by the antigenic diversity of the HIV envelope protein. In an effort to predict the efficacy of vaccination we have compared the systemic anti-envelope antibody response in seronegative volunteers immunized with recombinant gp160 (either in vaccinia or as soluble protein produced in baculovirus) derived from the HTLV-IIIB strain of HIV-1 and in two laboratory workers accidentally infected with the same strain. 11 of 14 vaccinees responded to immunization by producing anti-gp160 of similar titer and the same isotype as that seen in the laboratory workers. Four vaccinees also had antibody to the principal neutralizing domain (V3 loop) that was comparable in titer with that seen in the laboratory workers, but the fine specificity of anti-V3 antibody was qualitatively different in the two groups. Antibody that can block the interaction between CD4 and gp120 was present at comparable levels in three vaccines and the lab workers. Neutralizing antibody titers were markedly lower in the vaccinees than in the laboratory workers. In seven of the vaccinees, an immunodominant epitope was at amino acid 720-740. Analyses of monoclonal antibodies to this region indicate that they do not neutralize, bind to infected cells, nor function as immunotoxins. Although the anti-gp160 antibody response was of similar magnitude in both infected and vaccinated individuals, there were important qualitative differences.
We have studied 18 participants in phase I/II clinical trials of recombinant gp120 (rgp120) subunit vaccines (MN and SF-2) who became infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) during the course of the trials. Of the 18 individuals, 2 had received a placebo vaccine, 9 had been immunized with MN rgp120, and seven had been immunized with SF-2 rgp120. Thirteen of the 18 infected vaccinees had received three or four immunizations prior to becoming infected. Of these, two were placebo recipients, six had received MN rgp120, and five had received SF-2 rgp120. Only 1 of the 11 rgp120 recipients who had multiple immunizations failed to develop a strong immunoglobulin G antibody response to the immunogen. However, the antibody response to rgp120 was transient, typically having a half-life of 40 to 60 days. No significant neutralizing activity against the infecting strain was detected in any of the infected individuals at any time prior to infection. Antibody titers in subjects infected despite vaccination and in noninfected subjects were not significantly different. Envelope-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte responses measured after infection were infrequent and weak in the nine vaccinees who were tested. HIV-1 was isolated successfully from all 18 individuals. Sixteen of these strains had a non-syncytium-inducing (NSI) phenotype, while two had a syncytium-inducing (SI) phenotype. NSI strains used the CCR5 coreceptor to enter CD4+ cells, while an SI strain from one of the vaccinees also used CXCR4. Viruses isolated from the blood of rgp120 vaccinees were indistinguishable from viruses isolated from control individuals in terms of their inherent sensitivity to neutralization by specific monoclonal antibodies and their replication rates in vitro. Furthermore, genetic sequencing of the env genes of strains infecting the vaccinees did not reveal any features that clearly distinguished these viruses from contemporary clade B viruses circulating in the United States. Thus, despite rigorous genetic analyses, using various breakdowns of the data sets, we could find no evidence that rgp120 vaccination exerted selection pressure on the infecting HIV-1 strains. The viral burdens in the infected rgp120 vaccine recipients were also determined, and they were found to be not significantly different from those in cohorts of placebo-vaccinated and nonvaccinated individuals. In summary, we conclude that vaccination with rgp120 has had, to date, no obvious beneficial or adverse effects on the individuals we have studied.
Current data suggest that an efficacious human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccine should elicit both adaptive humoral and cell mediated immune responses. Such a vaccine will also need to protect against infection from a range of heterologous viral variants. Here we have developed a simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) based model in cynomolgus macaques to investigate the breadth of protection conferred by HIV-1W61D recombinant gp120 vaccination against SHIVsbg and SHIVSF33 challenge, and to identify correlates of protection.
High titres of anti-envelope antibodies were detected in all vaccinees. The antibodies reacted with both the homologous HIV-1W61D and heterologous HIV-1IIIB envelope rgp120 which has an identical sequence to the SHIVsbg challenge virus. Significant titres of virus neutralising antibodies were detected against SHIVW61D expressing an envelope homologous with the vaccine, but only limited cross neutralisation against SHIVsbg, SHIV-4 and SHIVSF33 was observed. Protection against SHIVsbg infection was observed in vaccinated animals but none was observed against SHIVSF33 challenge. Transfer of immune sera from vaccinated macaques to naive recipients did not confer protection against SHIVsbg challenge. In a follow-up study, T cell proliferative responses detected after immunisation with the same vaccine against a single peptide present in the second conserved region 2 of HIV-1 W61D and HIV-1 IIIB gp120, but not SF33 gp120.
Following extended vaccination with a HIV-1 rgp120 vaccine, protection was observed against heterologous virus challenge with SHIVsbg, but not SHIVSF33. Protection did not correlate with serological responses generated by vaccination, but might be associated with T cell proliferative responses against an epitope in the second constant region of HIV-1 gp120. Broader protection may be obtained with recombinant HIV-1 envelope based vaccines formulated with adjuvants that generate proliferative T cell responses in addition to broadly neutralising antibodies.
Envelope HIV-1 vaccine; Recombinant gp120; Macaque model; SHIV; Heterologous challenge; Protection; Cynomolgus macaque
Candidate human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccines designed to elicit T-cell immunity in HIV-1-uninfected persons are under investigation in phase I to III clinical trials. Little is known about how these vaccines impact the immunologic response postinfection in persons who break through despite vaccination. Here, we describe the first comprehensive characterization of HIV-specific T-cell immunity in vaccine study participants following breakthrough HIV-1 infection in comparison to 16 nonvaccinated subjects with primary HIV-1 infection. Whereas none of the 16 breakthrough infections possessed vaccine-induced HIV-1-specific T-cell responses preinfection, 85% of vaccinees and 86% of nonvaccinees with primary HIV-1 infection developed HIV-specific T-cell responses postinfection. Breakthrough subjects' T cells recognized 43 unique HIV-1 T-cell epitopes, of which 8 are newly described, and 25% were present in the vaccine. The frequencies of gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-secreting cells recognizing epitopes within gene products that were and were not encoded by the vaccine were not different (P = 0.64), which suggests that responses were not anamnestic. Epitopes within Nef and Gag proteins were the most commonly recognized in both vaccinated and nonvaccinated infected subjects. One individual controlled viral replication without antiretroviral therapy and, notably, mounted a novel HIV-specific HLA-C14-restricted Gag LYNTVATL-specific T-cell response. Longitudinally, HIV-specific T cells in this individual were able to secrete IFN-γ and tumor necrosis factor alpha, as well as proliferate and degranulate in response to their cognate antigenic peptides up to 5 years postinfection. In conclusion, a vaccinee's ability to mount an HIV-specific T-cell response postinfection is not compromised by previous immunization, since the CD8+ T-cell responses postinfection are similar to those seen in vaccine-naïve individuals. Finding an individual who is controlling infection highlights the importance of comprehensive studies of breakthrough infections in vaccine trials to determine whether host genetics/immune responses and/or viral characteristics are responsible for controlling viral replication.
An immune correlates analysis of the RV144 HIV-1 vaccine trial revealed that antibody responses to the gp120 V1/V2 region correlated inversely with infection risk. The RV144 protein immunogens (A244-rp120 and MN-rgp120) were modified by an N-terminal 11-amino-acid deletion (Δ11) and addition of a herpes simplex virus (HSV) gD protein-derived tag (gD). We investigated the effects of these modifications on gp120 expression, antigenicity, and immunogenicity by comparing unmodified A244 gp120 with both Δ11 deletion and gD tag and with Δ11 only. Analysis of A244 gp120, with or without Δ11 or gD, demonstrated that the Δ11 deletion, without the addition of gD, was sufficient for enhanced antigenicity to gp120 C1 region, conformational V2, and V1/V2 gp120 conformational epitopes. RV144 vaccinee serum IgGs bound more avidly to A244 gp120 Δ11 than to the unmodified gp120, and their binding was blocked by C1, V2, and V1/V2 antibodies. Rhesus macaques immunized with the three different forms of A244 gp120 proteins gave similar levels of gp120 antibody titers, although higher antibody titers developed earlier in A244 Δ11 gp120-immunized animals. Conformational V1/V2 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) gave significantly higher levels of blocking of plasma IgG from A244 Δ11 gp120-immunized animals than IgG from animals immunized with unmodified A244 gp120, thus indicating a qualitative difference in the V1/V2 antibodies induced by A244 Δ11 gp120. These results demonstrate that deletion of N-terminal residues in the RV144 A244 gp120 immunogen improves both envelope antigenicity and immunogenicity.
To explore the efficacy of novel complementary prime-boost immunization regimens in a nonhuman primate model for HIV infection, rhesus monkeys primed by different DNA vaccines were boosted with virus-like particles (VLP) and then challenged by repeated low-dose rectal exposure to simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). Characteristic of the cellular immune response after the VLP booster immunization were high numbers of SIV-specific, gamma interferon-secreting cells after stimulation with inactivated SIV particles, but not SIV peptides, and the absence of detectable levels of CD8+ T cell responses. Antibodies specific to SIV Gag and SIV Env could be induced in all animals, but, consistent with a poor neutralizing activity at the time of challenge, vaccinated monkeys were not protected from acquisition of infection and did not control viremia. Surprisingly, vaccinees with high numbers of SIV-specific, gamma interferon-secreting cells were infected fastest during the repeated low-dose exposures and the numbers of these immune cells in vaccinated macaques correlated with susceptibility to infection. Thus, in the absence of protective antibodies or cytotoxic T cell responses, vaccine-induced immune responses may increase the susceptibility to acquisition of immunodeficiency virus infection. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that virus-specific T helper cells mediate this detrimental effect and contribute to the inefficacy of past HIV vaccination attempts (e.g., STEP study).