A variant upstream of human leukocyte antigen C (HLA-C) shows the most significant genome-wide effect on HIV control in European Americans and is also associated with the level of HLA-C expression. We characterized the differential cell surface expression levels of all common HLA-C allotypes and tested directly for effects of HLA-C expression on outcomes of HIV infection in 5243 individuals. Increasing HLA-C expression was associated with protection against multiple outcomes independently of individual HLA allelic effects in both African and European Americans, regardless of their distinct HLA-C frequencies and linkage relationships with HLA-B and HLA-A. Higher HLA-C expression was correlated with increased likelihood of cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses and frequency of viral escape mutation. In contrast, high HLA-C expression had a deleterious effect in Crohn’s disease, suggesting a broader influence of HLA expression levels in human disease.
Intermittent dosing of pre-exposure prophylaxis (iPrEP) has potential to decrease costs, improve adherence, and minimize toxicity. Practical event-based dosing of iPrEP requires men who have sex with men (MSM) to be sexually active on fewer than 3 days each week and plan for sexual activity. MSM who may be most suitable for event-based dosing were older, more educated, more frequently used sexual networking websites, and more often reported that their last sexual encounter was not with a committed partner. A substantial proportion of these MSM endorse high-risk sexual activity, and event-based iPrEP may best target this population.
intermittent pre-exposure prophylaxis (iPrEP); pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP); event-based dosing; men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM); HIV; sexual frequency; sexual planning
The Step Study found that men who had sex with men (MSM) who received an adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) vector-based vaccine and were uncircumcised or had prior Ad5 immunity had a higher HIV incidence than MSM who received placebo. We investigated whether differences in HIV exposure, measured by reported sexual risk behaviors, may explain the increased risk.
Among 1,764 MSM in the trial, 724 were uncircumcised, 994 had prior Ad5 immunity and 560 were both uncircumcised and had prior Ad5 immunity. Analyses compared sexual risk behaviors and perceived treatment assignment among vaccine and placebo recipients, determined risk factors for HIV acquisition and examined the role of insertive anal intercourse in HIV risk among uncircumcised men.
Few sexual risk behaviors were significantly higher in vaccine vs. placebo recipients at baseline or during follow-up. Among uncircumcised men, vaccine recipients at baseline were more likely to report unprotected insertive anal intercourse with HIV negative partners (25.0% vs. 18.1%; p=0.03). Among uncircumcised men who had prior Ad5 immunity, vaccine recipients were more likely to report unprotected insertive anal intercourse with partners of unknown HIV status (46.0% vs. 37.5%; p=0.05). Vaccine recipients remained at higher risk of HIV infection compared to placebo recipients (HR =2.8; 95% CI:1.7, 6.8) controlling for potential confounders.
These analyses do not support a behavioral explanation for the increased HIV infection rates observed among uncircumcised men in the Step Study. Identifying biologic mechanisms to explain the increased risk is a priority.
This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00095576.
HIV vaccines; gay men; sexual behaviors
Black men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States (US) are affected by HIV at disproportionate rates compared to MSM of other race/ethnicities. Current HIV incidence estimates in this group are needed to appropriately target prevention efforts.
From July 2009 to October 2010, Black MSM reporting unprotected anal intercourse with a man in the past six months were enrolled and followed for one year in six US cities for a feasibility study of a multi-component intervention to reduce HIV infection. HIV incidence based on HIV seroconversion was calculated as number of events/100 person-years. Multivariate proportional hazards modeling with time-dependent covariates was used to identify correlates of HIV acquisition.
Of 1,553 Black MSM enrolled, 1,164 were HIV-uninfected at baseline and included in follow-up. Overall annual HIV incidence was 3.0% (95% confidence interval (CI): 2.0, 4.4%) and 5.9% among men ≤30 years old (95% CI: 3.6, 9.1%). Men ≤30 years old reported significantly higher levels of sexual risk and were more likely to have a sexually transmitted infection diagnosed during follow-up. Younger men also were more likely to not have a usual place for health care, not have visited a health care provider recently, and to have unmet health care needs. In multivariate analysis, age ≤30 years (hazard ratio (HR): 3.4; 95% CI: 1.4, 8.3) and unprotected receptive anal intercourse with HIV-positive or unknown status partners (HR: 4.1; 95% CI: 1.9, 9.1) were significantly associated with HIV acquisition.
In the largest cohort of prospectively-followed Black MSM in the US, HIV incidence was high, particularly among young men. Targeted, tailored and culturally appropriate HIV prevention strategies incorporating behavioral, social and biomedical based interventions are urgently needed to lower these rates.
Multiple genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been performed in HIV-1 infected individuals, identifying common genetic influences on viral control and disease course. Similarly, common genetic correlates of acquisition of HIV-1 after exposure have been interrogated using GWAS, although in generally small samples. Under the auspices of the International Collaboration for the Genomics of HIV, we have combined the genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data collected by 25 cohorts, studies, or institutions on HIV-1 infected individuals and compared them to carefully matched population-level data sets (a list of all collaborators appears in Note S1 in Text S1). After imputation using the 1,000 Genomes Project reference panel, we tested approximately 8 million common DNA variants (SNPs and indels) for association with HIV-1 acquisition in 6,334 infected patients and 7,247 population samples of European ancestry. Initial association testing identified the SNP rs4418214, the C allele of which is known to tag the HLA-B*57:01 and B*27:05 alleles, as genome-wide significant (p = 3.6×10−11). However, restricting analysis to individuals with a known date of seroconversion suggested that this association was due to the frailty bias in studies of lethal diseases. Further analyses including testing recessive genetic models, testing for bulk effects of non-genome-wide significant variants, stratifying by sexual or parenteral transmission risk and testing previously reported associations showed no evidence for genetic influence on HIV-1 acquisition (with the exception of CCR5Δ32 homozygosity). Thus, these data suggest that genetic influences on HIV acquisition are either rare or have smaller effects than can be detected by this sample size.
Comparing the frequency differences between common DNA variants in disease-affected cases and in unaffected controls has been successful in uncovering the genetic component of multiple diseases. This approach is most effective when large samples of cases and controls are available. Here we combine information from multiple studies of HIV infected patients, including more than 6,300 HIV+ individuals, with data from 7,200 general population samples of European ancestry to test nearly 8 million common DNA variants for an impact on HIV acquisition. With this large sample we did not observe any single common genetic variant that significantly associated with HIV acquisition. We further tested 22 variants previously identified by smaller studies as influencing HIV acquisition. With the exception of a deletion polymorphism in the CCR5 gene (CCR5Δ32) we found no convincing evidence to support these previous associations. Taken together these data suggest that genetic influences on HIV acquisition are either rare or have smaller effects than can be detected by this sample size.
Drug concentrations associated with protection from HIV-1 acquisition have not been determined. This study evaluated drug concentrations among men who have sex with men in a substudy of the iPrEx trial,(1) a randomized placebo controlled trial of daily oral emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Any detectable drug in blood plasma and viably cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (vPBMCs) was less frequent in HIV-infected cases at the visit when HIV was first discovered compared with controls at the matched time point of the study (8% vs 44%, P<0.001) and in the 90 days prior to that visit (11% vs 51%, P<0.001). An intracellular tenofovir-diphosphate (TFV-DP) concentration of 16 fmol per million vPBMCs was associated with a 90% reduction in HIV acquisition relative to the placebo arm. Directly observed dosing in a separate study, STRAND, yielded TFV-DP concentrations that, when analyzed with this iPrEx model, corresponded with HIV-1 risk reduction of 76% for 2 doses per week, 96% for 4 doses per week, 99% for 7 doses per week. Prophylactic benefits were observed over a range of doses and drug concentrations, suggesting ways to optimize PrEP regimens for this population.
Background. The Step Study tested whether an adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5)–vectored human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine could prevent HIV acquisition and/or reduce viral load set-point after infection. At the first interim analysis, nonefficacy criteria were met. Vaccinations were halted; participants were unblinded. In post hoc analyses, more HIV infections occurred in vaccinees vs placebo recipients in men who had Ad5-neutralizing antibodies and/or were uncircumcised. Follow-up was extended to assess relative risk of HIV acquisition in vaccinees vs placebo recipients over time.
Methods. We used Cox proportional hazard models for analyses of vaccine effect on HIV acquisition and vaccine effect modifiers, and nonparametric and semiparametric methods for analysis of constancy of relative risk over time.
Results. One hundred seventy-two of 1836 men were infected. The adjusted vaccinees vs placebo recipients hazard ratio (HR) for all follow-up time was 1.40 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03–1.92; P = .03). Vaccine effect differed by baseline Ad5 or circumcision status during first 18 months, but neither was significant for all follow-up time. The HR among uncircumcised and/or Ad5-seropositive men waned with time since vaccination. No significant vaccine-associated risk was seen among circumcised, Ad5-negative men (HR, 0.97; P = 1.0) over all follow-up time.
Conclusions. The vaccine-associated risk seen in interim analysis was confirmed but waned with time from vaccination.
Clinical Trials Registration. NCT00095576.
The human APOBEC3 family of cytidine deaminases provides intrinsic immunity to retroviral infection. A naturally occurring 29.5-kb deletion removes the entire APOBEC3B gene. We examined the impact of the APOBEC3B gene deletion in >4000 individuals from five HIV-1 natural history cohorts. The hemizygous genotype had no effect on either infection or progression. However, the homozygous deletion was significantly associated with unfavorable outcomes for HIV-1 acquisition (OR=7.37, P=0.024), progression to AIDS (RH = 4.01, P=0.03), and viral set-point (P=0.04). These findings suggest that the loss of APOBEC3B may increase host susceptibility to HIV-1/AIDS and warrant further study.
Several recent large clinical trials evaluated HIV vaccine candidates that were based on recombinant adenovirus serotype 5 (rAd-5) vectors expressing HIV-derived antigens. These vaccines primarily elicited T-cell responses, which are known to be critical for controlling HIV infection. In the current study, we present a meta-analysis of epitope mapping data from 177 participants in three clinical trials that tested two different HIV vaccines: MRKAd-5 HIV and VRC-HIVAD014-00VP. We characterized the population-level epitope responses in these trials by generating population-based epitope maps, and also designed such maps using a large cohort of 372 naturally infected individuals. We used these maps to address several questions: (1) Are vaccine-induced responses randomly distributed across vaccine inserts, or do they cluster into immunodominant epitope hotspots? (2) Are the immunodominance patterns observed for these two vaccines in three vaccine trials different from one another? (3) Do vaccine-induced hotspots overlap with epitope hotspots induced by chronic natural infection with HIV-1? (4) Do immunodominant hotspots target evolutionarily conserved regions of the HIV genome? (5) Can epitope prediction methods be used to identify these hotspots? We found that vaccine responses clustered into epitope hotspots in all three vaccine trials and some of these hotspots were not observed in chronic natural infection. We also found significant differences between the immunodominance patterns generated in each trial, even comparing two trials that tested the same vaccine in different populations. Some of the vaccine-induced immunodominant hotspots were located in highly variable regions of the HIV genome, and this was more evident for the MRKAd-5 HIV vaccine. Finally, we found that epitope prediction methods can partially predict the location of vaccine-induced epitope hotspots. Our findings have implications for vaccine design and suggest a framework by which different vaccine candidates can be compared in early phases of evaluation.
The HIV epidemic is a major global health challenge leading to more than 1.8 million deaths annually, and despite significant efforts, the search for an efficacious and safe vaccine continues. Several candidate vaccines were designed to elicit CD8+ T-cell responses and were based on using recombinant Adenovirus serotype 5 (rAd-5) vector that expresses HIV-derived antigens. While none of these vaccines had protective effects, they provide an opportunity to study vaccine-induced T-cell responses on a population level. Here, we analyze data from the three largest epitope mapping studies performed in three clinical trials testing two rAd-5 vaccines. We find that vaccine-induced responses tend to cluster in “epitope hotspots” and that these hotspots are different for each vaccine and more surprisingly in two different vaccine trials testing the same vaccine. We also compared vaccine-induced hotspots to those elicited by natural infection and found that some of the vaccine-induced hotspots are not observed in natural infection. Finally, we show that epitope prediction methods can be useful for predicting vaccine induced hotspots based on participants HLA alleles.
The Step study of a recombinant adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5)–based human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccine revealed an increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition in vaccinees who were Ad5 seropositive at baseline. We therefore investigated whether preexisting Ad seropositivity to 7 different Ad serotypes was associated with increased risk of HIV-1 infection in 3 HIV-1 vaccine efficacy trials. In a case-control study involving 1570 adults enrolled in the VAX003 and VAX004 trials of a recombinant protein subunit HIV-1 vaccine and in the Step study, we observed that preexisting seropositivity to multiple Ad serotypes was not intrinsically associated with increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition.
Background. To date, only mutations in CCR5 have been shown to confer resistance to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection, and these explain only a small fraction of the observed variability in HIV susceptibility.
Methods. We performed a meta-analysis between 2 independent European genomewide association studies, each comparing HIV-1 seropositive cases with normal population controls known to be HIV uninfected, to identify single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the HIV-1 acquisition phenotype. SNPs exhibiting P < 10−5 in this first stage underwent second-stage analysis in 2 independent US cohorts of European descent.
Results. After the first stage, a single highly significant association was revealed for the chromosome 8 rs6996198 with HIV-1 acquisition and was replicated in both second-stage cohorts. Across the 4 groups, the rs6996198-T allele was consistently associated with a significant reduced risk of HIV-1 infection, and the global meta-analysis reached genomewide significance: Pcombined = 7.76 × 10−8.
Conclusions. We provide strong evidence of association for a common variant with HIV-1 acquisition in populations of European ancestry. This protective signal against HIV-1 infection is the first identified outside the CCR5 nexus. First clues point to a potential functional role for a nearby candidate gene, CYP7B1, but this locus warrants further investigation.
In this work, we estimate the proportions of transmissions occurring in main vs. casual partnerships, and by the sexual role, infection stage, and testing and treatment history of the infected partner, for men who have sex with men (MSM) in the US and Peru. We use dynamic, stochastic models based in exponential random graph models (ERGMs), obtaining inputs from multiple large-scale MSM surveys. Parallel main partnership and casual sexual networks are simulated. Each man is characterized by age, race, circumcision status, sexual role behavior, and propensity for unprotected anal intercourse (UAI); his history is modeled from entry into the adult population, with potential transitions including HIV infection, detection, treatment, AIDS diagnosis, and death. We implemented two model variants differing in assumptions about acute infectiousness, and assessed sensitivity to other key inputs. Our two models suggested that only 4–5% (Model 1) or 22–29% (Model 2) of HIV transmission results from contacts with acute-stage partners; the plurality (80–81% and 49%, respectively) stem from chronic-stage partners and the remainder (14–16% and 27–35%, respectively) from AIDS-stage partners. Similar proportions of infections stem from partners whose infection is undiagnosed (24–31%), diagnosed but untreated (36–46%), and currently being treated (30–36%). Roughly one-third of infections (32–39%) occur within main partnerships. Results by country were qualitatively similar, despite key behavioral differences; one exception was that transmission from the receptive to insertive partner appears more important in Peru (34%) than the US (21%). The broad balance in transmission contexts suggests that education about risk, careful assessment, pre-exposure prophylaxis, more frequent testing, earlier treatment, and risk-reduction, disclosure, and adherence counseling may all contribute substantially to reducing the HIV incidence among MSM in the US and Peru.
Five preventative HIV vaccine efficacy trials have been conducted over the last 12 years, all of which evaluated vaccine efficacy (VE) to prevent HIV infection for a single vaccine regimen versus placebo. Now that one of these trials has supported partial VE of a prime-boost vaccine regimen, there is interest in conducting efficacy trials that simultaneously evaluate multiple prime-boost vaccine regimens against a shared placebo group in the same geographic region, for accelerating the pace of vaccine development. This article proposes such a design, which has main objectives (1) to evaluate VE of each regimen versus placebo against HIV exposures occurring near the time of the immunizations; (2) to evaluate durability of VE for each vaccine regimen showing reliable evidence for positive VE; (3) to expeditiously evaluate the immune correlates of protection if any vaccine regimen shows reliable evidence for positive VE; and (4) to compare VE among the vaccine regimens. The design uses sequential monitoring for the events of vaccine harm, non-efficacy, and high efficacy, selected to weed out poor vaccines as rapidly as possible while guarding against prematurely weeding out a vaccine that does not confer efficacy until most of the immunizations are received. The evaluation of the design shows that testing multiple vaccine regimens is important for providing a well-powered assessment of the correlation of vaccine-induced immune responses with HIV infection, and is critically important for providing a reasonably powered assessment of the value of identified correlates as surrogate endpoints for HIV infection.
HIV vaccine efficacy clinical trial; immune correlate of protection; one-way crossover design; surrogate endpoint for HIV infection; two-phase sampling
Although efficacy is unknown, many men who have sex with men (MSM) attempt to reduce HIV risk by adapting condom use, partner selection, or sexual position to the partner’s HIV serostatus. We assessed the association of seroadaptive practices with HIV acquisition.
We pooled data on North American MSM from four longitudinal HIV-prevention studies. Sexual behaviors reported during each six-month interval were assigned sequentially to one of six mutually exclusive risk categories: (1) no unprotected anal intercourse (UAI), (2) having a single negative partner, (3) being an exclusive top (only insertive anal sex), (4) serosorting (multiple partners, all HIV negative), (5) seropositioning (only insertive anal sex with potentially discordant partners), and (6) UAI with no seroadaptive practices. HIV antibody testing was conducted at the end of each interval. We used Cox models to evaluate the independent association of each category with HIV acquisition, controlling for number of partners, age, race, drug use, and intervention assignment. 12,277 participants contributed to 60,162 six-month intervals with 663 HIV seroconversions. No UAI was reported in 47.4% of intervals, UAI with some seroadaptive practices in 31.8%, and UAI with no seroadaptive practices in 20.4%. All seroadaptive practices were associated with a lower risk, compared to UAI with no seroadaptive practices. However, compared to no UAI, serosorting carried twice the risk (HR = 2.03, 95%CI:1.51–2.73), whereas seropositioning was similar in risk (HR = 0.85, 95%CI:0.50–1.44), and UAI with a single negative partner and as an exclusive top were both associated with a lower risk (HR = 0.56, 95%CI:0.32–0.96 and HR = 0.55, 95%CI:0.36–0.84, respectively).
Seroadaptive practices appear protective when compared with UAI with no seroadaptive practices, but serosorting appears to be twice as risky as no UAI. Condom use and limiting number of partners should be advocated as first-line prevention strategies, but seroadaptive practices may be considered harm-reduction for men at greatest risk.
Transient HIV infections have been invoked to account for the cellular immune responses detected in highly virus-exposed individuals who have remained HIV seronegative. We tested for very low levels of HIV RNA in 524 seronegative plasma samples from 311 highly exposed women and men from 3 longitudinal HIV cohorts.
2073 transcription mediated amplification (TMA) HIV RNA tests were performed for an average of 3.95 TMA assays per plasma sample. Quadruplicate TMA assays, analyzing a total of 2 ml of plasma, provided an estimated sensitivity of 3.5 HIV RNA copies/ml.
Four samples from subjects who did not sero-convert within the following six months were positive for HIV RNA. For one sample, human polymorphism DNA analysis indicated a sample mix up. Borderline HIV RNA detection signals were detected for the other three positive samples and further replicate TMA testing yielded no positive results. Nested PCR assays (n=254) for HIV proviral DNA on PBMC from these 3 subjects were negative.
Transient viremia was not reproducibly detected in highly HIV exposed seronegative men and women. If transient infections do occur, plasma HIV RNA levels may remain below the detection limits of the sensitive assay used here, be of very short duration, or viral replication may be restricted to mucosal surfaces or their draining lymphoid tissues.
Extensive observational data suggest that HSV-2 infection may
facilitate HIV acquisition, increase HIV viral load, and accelerate HIV
progression and onward transmission. To explore these relationships, we
examined the impact of pre-existing HSV-2 infection in an international HIV
We analyzed the associations between prevalent HSV-2 infection and
HIV-1 acquisition and progression among 1836 men who have sex with men
(MSM). We used Cox proportional hazards regression models to estimate the
association between HSV-2 infection and both HIV acquisition and ART
initiation, and linear regression to explore the effect of HSV-2 on pre-ART
HSV-2 infection increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition among all
volunteers (adjusted hazard ratio 2.2; 95% CI, 1.4 to 3.5).
Adjusting for demographic variables, circumcision, Ad5 titer and significant
risk behaviors, the risk of HIV acquisition among HSV-2 infected placebo
recipients was three fold higher than HSV-2 seronegatives (hazard ratio 3.3;
95% CI, 1.6 to 6.9). Past HSV-2 infection was associated with a 0.2
log10 copies/ml higher adjusted mean set point viral load
(95% CI, 0.3 lower to 0.6 higher). HSV-2 infection was not
associated with time to ART initiation.
Among MSM in an HIV-1 vaccine trial, pre-existing HSV-2 infection was
a major risk factor for HIV acquisition. Past HSV-2 did not significantly
increase HIV viral load or early disease progression. HSV-2 seropositive
persons will likely prove more difficult than HSV-2 seronegative persons to
protect against HIV infection using vaccines or other prevention
Herpes Simplex Virus Type II; HIV incidence
Recombinant adenovirus serotype 5 (rAd5) vaccine vectors for HIV-1 and other pathogens have been shown to be limited by high titers of Ad5 neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) in the developing world. Alternative serotype rAd vectors have therefore been constructed. Here we report Ad5, Ad26, Ad35, and Ad48 NAb titers in 4,381 individuals from North America, South America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia. As expected, Ad5 NAb titers were both frequent and high magnitude in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. In contrast, Ad35 NAb titers proved infrequent and low in all regions studied, and Ad48 NAbs were rare in all regions except East Africa. Ad26 NAbs were moderately common in adults in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, but Ad26 NAb titers proved markedly lower than Ad5 NAb titers in all regions, and these relatively low Ad26 NAb titers did not detectably suppress the immunogenicity of 4×1010 vp of a rAd26-Gag/Pol/Env/Nef vaccine in rhesus monkeys. These data inform the clinical development of alternative serotype rAd vaccine vectors in the developing world.
Background. Host genetic variation influences human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and progression to AIDS. Here we used clinically well-characterized subjects from 5 pretreatment HIV/AIDS cohorts for a genome-wide association study to identify gene associations with rate of AIDS progression.
Methods. European American HIV seroconverters (n = 755) were interrogated for single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (n = 700,022) associated with progression to AIDS 1987 (Cox proportional hazards regression analysis, co-dominant model).
Results. Association with slower progression was observed for SNPs in the gene PARD3B. One of these, rs11884476, reached genome-wide significance (relative hazard = 0.3; P =3. 370 × 10−9) after statistical correction for 700,022 SNPs and contributes 4.52% of the overall variance in AIDS progression in this study. Nine of the top-ranked SNPs define a PARD3B haplotype that also displays significant association with progression to AIDS (hazard ratio, 0.3; P = 3.220 × 10−8). One of these SNPs, rs10185378, is a predicted exonic splicing enhancer; significant alteration in the expression profile of PARD3B splicing transcripts was observed in B cell lines with alternate rs10185378 genotypes. This SNP was typed in European cohorts of rapid progressors and was found to be protective for AIDS 1993 definition (odds ratio, 0.43, P = .025).
Conclusions. These observations suggest a potential unsuspected pathway of host genetic influence on the dynamics of AIDS progression.
The Step trial raised the possibility that uncircumcised men with pre-existing Ad5 neutralizing antibodies carried an increased risk of HIV infection after vaccination. Thus, understanding Ad seropositivity in humans is important to the development of an AIDS vaccine. Here, we analyze the impact of different Ad5-specific neutralizing antibodies on immune function and clinical outcome.
Methods and Findings
Ad seropositivity in the Step trial volunteers was analyzed using chimeric rAd5/35 vectors to characterize their specificity for Ad5 fiber and non-fiber external (capsid) proteins. Immune responses and HIV seropositivity were correlated with the specificity of Ad5-neutralizing antibodies. Neutralizing antibodies induced by the vaccine in Ad5 seronegative subjects were directed preferentially to Ad5 capsid proteins, although some fiber-neutralizing antibodies could be detected. Pre-vaccination Ad5 serostatus did not affect the capsid-directed response after three vaccinations. In contrast, anti-fiber antibody titers were significantly higher in volunteers who were Ad5 seropositive prior to vaccination. Those Ad5 seropositive subjects who generated anti-capsid responses showed a marked reduction in vaccine-induced CD8 responses. Unexpectedly, anti-vector immunity differed qualitatively in Ad5 seropositive participants who became HIV-1 infected compared to uninfected case controls; Ad5 seropositive participants who later acquired HIV had lower neutralizing antibodies to capsid. Moreover, Ad35 seropositivity was decreased in HIV-infected subjects compared with uninfected case controls, while seroprevalence for other serotypes including Ad14, Ad28 and Ad41 was similar in both groups.
Together, these findings suggest that the case subjects were less immunologically responsive prior to infection. Subjects infected during the Step trial had qualitative differences in immunity that increased their risk of HIV-1 infection independent of vaccination.
To assess the association between male circumcision, insertive anal sex practices, and HIV acquisition in a cohort of men who have sex with men (MSM).
Data were from 1824 HSV-2 seropositive, HIV seronegative MSM, 1362 (75%) from Peru and 462 (25%) from the US, who participated in a randomized placebo controlled trial of HSV-2 suppression for HIV prevention (HPTN 039). Circumcision status was determined by examination at enrollment. HIV testing was done every three months for up to 18 months. Partner-specific sexual behavior for up to the last three partners during the previous three months was analyzed.
There was no significant association between male circumcision and HIV acquisition in univariate analysis (RR=0.84, 95% CI 0.50–1.42). In a pre-specified multivariate analysis that assumed a linear relationship between the proportion of insertive acts and effect of circumcision on HIV acquisition, the interaction between circumcision and proportion of insertive acts was not significant (p=0.11). In an exploratory analysis that categorized behavior with recent partners by proportion of insertive acts (<60% or ≥60% insertive acts), circumcision was associated with a non-statistically significant 69% reduction in the risk of HIV acquisition (RR=0.31, 95% CI 0.06–1.51) among men who reported ≥60% of insertive acts with recent male partners.
Circumcision does not have a significant protective effect against HIV acquisition among MSM from Peru and US, although there may be reduced risk for men who are primarily insertive with their male partners. This association needs to be investigated across diverse cohorts of MSM.
HIV acquisition; male circumcision; men who have sex with men
Recombinant viruses hold promise as vectors for vaccines to prevent infectious diseases with significant global health impacts. One of their major limitations is that preexisting anti-vector neutralizing antibodies can reduce T cell responses to the insert antigens; however, the impact of vector-specific cellular immunity on subsequent insert-specific T cell responses has not been assessed in humans. Here, we have identified and compared adenovirus-specific and HIV-specific T cell responses in subjects participating in two HIV-1 vaccine trials using a vaccine vectored by adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5). Higher frequencies of pre-immunization adenovirus-specific CD4+ T cells were associated with substantially decreased magnitude of HIV-specific CD4+ T cell responses and decreased breadth of HIV-specific CD8+ T cell responses in vaccine recipients, independent of type-specific preexisting Ad5-specific neutralizing antibody titers. Further, epitopes recognized by adenovirus-specific T cells were commonly conserved across many adenovirus serotypes, suggesting that cross-reactivity of preexisting adenovirus-specific T cells can extend to adenovirus vectors derived from rare serotypes. These findings provide what we believe to be a new understanding of how preexisting viral immunity may impact the efficacy of vaccines under current evaluation for prevention of HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria.
A safe and effective HIV vaccine is needed to curtail the US and global epidemics. However, the search for a preventive vaccine has been elusive, despite more than 25 years of focused research. Results from the RV144 Thai efficacy trial have renewed hope that a vaccine may protect against HIV acquisition. We can draw several scientific and operational lessons from RV144 and other recent tests of concept efficacy trials. Here we describe how trial results, some unexpected, highlight the fundamental role these clinical studies play in HIV vaccine discovery. These trials also teach us that transparency in data analysis and results dissemination can yield substantial rewards and that efforts to engage communities, particularly those most heavily affected by the epidemic, are needed to augment research literacy and trial recruitment. Future efficacy trial designs may incorporate novel, partially effective prevention strategies. Although greater in size and complexity, these trials may offer unique opportunities to explore synergies with vaccines under study.
HIV vaccines; clinical trials; efficacy trials; combination prevention
Background. High-throughput genome-wide techniques have facilitated the identification of previously unknown host proteins involved in cellular human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Recently, 3 independent studies have used small interfering RNA technology to silence each gene in the human genome to determine the importance of each in HIV infection. Genes conferring a significant effect were termed HIV-dependency factors (HDFs).
Methods. We assembled high-density panels of 6380 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 278 HDF genes and tested for genotype associations with HIV infection and AIDS progression in 1633 individuals from clinical AIDS cohorts.
Results. After statistical correction for multiple tests, significant associations with HIV acquisition were found for SNPs in 2 genes, NCOR2 and IDH1. Weaker associations with AIDS progression were revealed for SNPs within the TM9SF2 and EGFR genes.
Conclusions. This study independently verifies the influence of NCOR2 and IDH1 on HIV transmission, and its findings suggest that variation in these genes affects susceptibility to HIV infection in exposed individuals.