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2.  Loss of Circulating CD4 T Cells with B Cell Helper Function during Chronic HIV Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(1):e1003853.
The interaction between follicular T helper cells (TFH) and B cells in the lymph nodes and spleen has a major impact on the development of antigen-specific B cell responses during infection or vaccination. Recent studies described a functional equivalent of these cells among circulating CD4 T cells, referred to as peripheral TFH cells. Here, we characterize the phenotype and in vitro B cell helper activity of peripheral TFH populations, as well as the effect of HIV infection on these populations. In co-culture experiments we confirmed CXCR5+ cells from HIV-uninfected donors provide help to B cells and more specifically, we identified a CCR7highCXCR5highCCR6highPD-1high CD4 T cell population that secretes IL-21 and enhances isotype-switched immunoglobulin production. This population is significantly decreased in treatment-naïve, HIV-infected individuals and can be recovered after anti-retroviral therapy. We found impaired immunoglobulin production in co-cultures from HIV-infected individuals and found no correlation between the frequency of peripheral TFH cells and memory B cells, or with neutralization activity in untreated HIV infection in our cohort. Furthermore, we found that within the peripheral TFH population, the expression level of TFH-associated genes more closely resembles a memory, non-TFH population, as opposed to a TFH population. Overall, our data identify a heterogeneous population of circulating CD4 T cells that provides in vitro help to B cells, and challenges the origin of these cells as memory TFH cells.
Author Summary
Follicular T helper cells (TFH) interact with B cells within germinal centers of lymphoid tissue to promote the survival, isotype switching and generation of high affinity memory B cells and plasma cells. Recently, a population of circulating CD4 T cells that shares phenotypic and functional characteristics with TFH cells, named peripheral TFH cells, has been identified. The relationship between peripheral TFH cells in the blood and TFH cells within the lymphoid tissue remains unclear, and whether or not peripheral TFH cells can provide insight into T cell and B cell dynamics within lymphoid tissue during infection or vaccination is not understood. Here we characterize peripheral TFH cells and show that unlike TFH cells, peripheral TFH cells secrete a diverse array of cytokines and decrease, rather than increase, during chronic HIV infection. Furthermore, we did not observe a relationship between peripheral TFH cells and memory B cells, or with the production of neutralizing antibodies to HIV. Overall, our data indicate that while peripheral TFH cells share some characteristics with TFH cells, they may not represent a good surrogate to study T cell and B cell dynamics within lymphoid tissue.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003853
PMCID: PMC3911819  PMID: 24497824
3.  The Thai Phase III HIV Type 1 Vaccine Trial (RV144) Regimen Induces Antibodies That Target Conserved Regions Within the V2 Loop of gp120 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2012;28(11):1444-1457.
Abstract
The Thai Phase III clinical trial (RV144) showed modest efficacy in preventing HIV-1 acquisition. Plasma collected from HIV-1-uninfected trial participants completing all injections with ALVAC-HIV (vCP1521) prime and AIDSVAX B/E boost were tested for antibody responses against HIV-1 gp120 envelope (Env). Peptide microarray analysis from six HIV-1 subtypes and group M consensus showed that vaccination induced antibody responses to the second variable (V2) loop of gp120 of multiple subtypes. We further evaluated V2 responses by ELISA and surface plasmon resonance using cyclic (Cyc) and linear V2 loop peptides. Thirty-one of 32 vaccine recipients tested (97%) had antibody responses against Cyc V2 at 2 weeks postimmunization with a reciprocal geometric mean titer (GMT) of 1100 (range: 200–3200). The frequency of detecting plasma V2 antibodies declined to 19% at 28 weeks post-last injection (GMT: 110, range: 100–200). Antibody responses targeted the mid-region of the V2 loop that contains conserved epitopes and has the amino acid sequence KQKVHALFYKLDIVPI (HXB2 Numbering sequence 169–184). Valine at position 172 was critical for antibody binding. The frequency of V3 responses at 2 weeks postimmunization was modest (18/32, 56%) with a GMT of 185 (range: 100–800). In contrast, naturally infected HIV-1 individuals had a lower frequency of antibody responses to V2 (10/20, 50%; p=0.003) and a higher frequency of responses to V3 (19/20, 95%), with GMTs of 400 (range: 100–3200) and 3570 (range: 200–12,800), respectively. RV144 vaccination induced antibodies that targeted a region of the V2 loop that contains conserved epitopes. Early HIV-1 transmission events involve V2 loop interactions, raising the possibility that anti-V2 antibodies in RV144 may have contributed to viral inhibition.
doi:10.1089/aid.2012.0103
PMCID: PMC3484815  PMID: 23035746
4.  Ad hoc analysis of behavior and time as co-variates of the Thai phase III efficacy trial: RV 144 
The Lancet infectious diseases  2012;12(7):531-537.
Background
The Thai phase III HIV vaccine trial's modest efficacy (VE 31.2% 95% CI 1.1, 51.2) represents the first demonstration that a vaccine can protect against HIV acquisition. Baseline variables of age, gender, marital status, and risk did not modify vaccine efficacy (VE). Here we explore behavioral risk and efficacy at 6 monthly intervals following vaccination.
Methods
Behavioral risk was assessed with a self-administered questionnaire every 6 months during trial participation. Both the acquisition endpoint and the early viral load endpoint are examined for interactions with risk status over time and temporal effects following vaccination.
Finding
Risk for HIV acquisition is low in each risk group, but the majority of participants reported higher-risk behavior at least once during the study (N= 9187, 58%). In post-hoc analyses, comparing those participants categorized as high or rising risk at least once during study follow-up versus those who maintained low or medium risk behavior as a time-varying covariate, the interaction of risk status and acquisition efficacy is significant (P = 0.010) with greater benefit in the lower risk individuals. VE appears to peak early with an estimate of cumulative VE = 60% through 12 months after initial vaccination (95% CI 22 –80%), and declines quickly. Vaccination did not appear to affect viral load in either early or late infections.
Interpretation
Future HIV vaccine trials must recognize potential interactions between challenge intensity and risk heterogeneity in the population and treatment effects. The regimen tested in the Thai phase III trial may benefit from extended immunization schedules.
doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(12)70088-9
PMCID: PMC3530398  PMID: 22652344
5.  Molecular Evolution of the HIV-1 Thai Epidemic between the Time of RV144 Immunogen Selection to the Execution of the Vaccine Efficacy Trial 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(13):7265-7281.
The RV144 HIV-1 vaccine trial (Thailand, 2003 to 2009), using immunogens genetically matched to the regional epidemic, demonstrated the first evidence of efficacy for an HIV-1 vaccine. Here we studied the molecular evolution of the HIV-1 epidemic from the time of immunogen selection to the execution of the efficacy trial. We studied HIV-1 genetic diversity among 390 volunteers who were deferred from enrollment in RV144 due to preexisting HIV-1 infection using a multiregion hybridization assay, full-genome sequencing, and phylogenetic analyses. The subtype distribution was 91.7% CRF01_AE, 3.5% subtype B, 4.3% B/CRF01_AE recombinants, and 0.5% dual infections. CRF01_AE strains were 31% more diverse than the ones from the 1990s Thai epidemic. Sixty-nine percent of subtype B strains clustered with the cosmopolitan Western B strains. Ninety-three percent of B/CRF01_AE recombinants were unique; recombination breakpoint analysis showed that these strains were highly embedded within the larger network that integrates recombinants from East/Southeast Asia. Compared to Thai sequences from the early 1990s, the distance to the RV144 immunogens increased 52% to 68% for CRF01_AE Env immunogens and 12% to 29% for subtype B immunogens. Forty-three percent to 48% of CRF01_AE sequences differed from the sequence of the vaccine insert in Env variable region 2 positions 169 and 181, which were implicated in vaccine sieve effects in RV144. In conclusion, compared to the molecular picture at the early stages of vaccine development, our results show an overall increase in the genetic complexity of viruses in the Thai epidemic and in the distance to vaccine immunogens, which should be considered at the time of the analysis of the trial results.
doi:10.1128/JVI.03070-12
PMCID: PMC3700312  PMID: 23576510
6.  Expression of monocyte markers in HIV-1 infected individuals with or without HIV associated dementia and normal controls in Bangkok Thailand☆ 
Journal of neuroimmunology  2008;195(0):100-107.
HIV Associated Dementia (HAD) is a complication of HIV infection in developed countries and is still poorly defined in resource-limited settings. In this study we investigated the expression of the monocyte phenotype CD14CD16HLADR and the inflammatory profiles in monocytes supernatants by surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization-time of flight (SELDI-TOF) mass spectrometry in a cohort of HAD and non-HAD Thai volunteers prior to the initiation of ARV. The CD14CD16HLADR phenotype was significantly increased in monocytes from HAD and non-HAD versus negative controls, but there was no difference in phenotype and in the secretion protein profiles between the two seropositive groups. In addition, monocytes supernatants from HAD and non-HAD did not induced apoptosis or cell death in brain aggregate culture. In conclusion it appears that HAD in Thai individuals has a different immunological profile then in North America cohorts.
doi:10.1016/j.jneuroim.2007.11.021
PMCID: PMC3670943  PMID: 18191233
HIV-1; Thailand; Monocyte markers; HAD
7.  The Thai Phase III Trial (RV144) Vaccine Regimen Induces T Cell Responses that Preferentially Target Epitopes within the V2 Region of HIV-1 Envelope 
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.
doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1102756
PMCID: PMC3383859  PMID: 22529301
Human; Vaccination; Viral; AIDS; HIV-1; T cells
8.  Association of HIV neutralizing antibody with lower viral load after treatment interruption in a prospective trial (A5170) 
AIDS (London, England)  2012;26(11):1452.
Objective
We investigated the impact of neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) on CD4 T-cell count and viral load in a cohort of HAART recipients who underwent extended structured treatment interruption.
Design
Substudy of NAb in the AIDS Clinical Trials Group 5170 trial.
Methods
Early plasma samples from 50 volunteers who discontinued HAART were evaluated in a peripheral blood mononuclear cell-based neutralization assay against a panel of four subtype B primary isolates.
Results
We found that high-titer (90% inhibitory dose > 500) NAb against two or more isolates was associated with reduced viral load (P=0.003 at 12-week posttreatment interruption). This effect faded with time, losing significance (P=0.161) by study conclusion. Participants possessing the highest NAb levels against individual isolates appeared more likely to have lower viral loads with the association gaining significance against the R5-tropic primary isolate US1 (P=0.005). There was no association between broader neutralization and CD4 T-cell slope over time.
Conclusion
The data suggest that high-titer NAb responses at the time of treatment interruption are associated with reduced viral load over time, but not CD4+ T-cell decline.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e3283550b8e
PMCID: PMC3505760  PMID: 22767347
CD4+ T cells; HAART; HIV; neutralizing antibodies; viral load
9.  Immune-Correlates Analysis of an HIV-1 Vaccine Efficacy Trial 
The New England Journal of Medicine  2012;366(14):1275-1286.
BACKGROUND
In the RV144 trial, the estimated efficacy of a vaccine regimen against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) was 31.2%. We performed a case–control analysis to identify antibody and cellular immune correlates of infection risk.
METHODS
In pilot studies conducted with RV144 blood samples, 17 antibody or cellular assays met prespecified criteria, of which 6 were chosen for primary analysis to determine the roles of T-cell, IgG antibody, and IgA antibody responses in the modulation of infection risk. Assays were performed on samples from 41 vaccinees who became infected and 205 uninfected vaccinees, obtained 2 weeks after final immunization, to evaluate whether immune-response variables predicted HIV-1 infection through 42 months of follow-up.
RESULTS
Of six primary variables, two correlated significantly with infection risk: the binding of IgG antibodies to variable regions 1 and 2 (V1V2) of HIV-1 envelope proteins (Env) correlated inversely with the rate of HIV-1 infection (estimated odds ratio, 0.57 per 1-SD increase; P = 0.02; q = 0.08), and the binding of plasma IgA antibodies to Env correlated directly with the rate of infection (estimated odds ratio, 1.54 per 1-SD increase; P = 0.03; q = 0.08). Neither low levels of V1V2 antibodies nor high levels of Env-specific IgA antibodies were associated with higher rates of infection than were found in the placebo group. Secondary analyses suggested that Env-specific IgA antibodies may mitigate the effects of potentially protective antibodies.
CONCLUSIONS
This immune-correlates study generated the hypotheses that V1V2 antibodies may have contributed to protection against HIV-1 infection, whereas high levels of Env-specific IgA antibodies may have mitigated the effects of protective antibodies. Vaccines that are designed to induce higher levels of V1V2 antibodies and lower levels of Env-specific IgA antibodies than are induced by the RV144 vaccine may have improved efficacy against HIV-1 infection.
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1113425
PMCID: PMC3371689  PMID: 22475592
10.  Impact of Multi-Targeted Antiretroviral Treatment on Gut T Cell Depletion and HIV Reservoir Seeding during Acute HIV Infection 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33948.
Background
Limited knowledge exists on early HIV events that may inform preventive and therapeutic strategies. This study aims to characterize the earliest immunologic and virologic HIV events following infection and investigates the usage of a novel therapeutic strategy.
Methods and Findings
We prospectively screened 24,430 subjects in Bangkok and identified 40 AHI individuals. Thirty Thais were enrolled (8 Fiebig I, 5 Fiebig II, 15 Fiebig III, 2 Fiebig IV) of whom 15 completed 24 weeks of megaHAART (tenofovir/emtricitabine/efavirenz/raltegravir/maraviroc). Sigmoid biopsies were completed in 24/30 at baseline and 13/15 at week 24.
At baseline, the median age was 29 years and 83% were MSM. Most were symptomatic (87%), and were infected with R5-tropic (77%) CRF01_AE (70%). Median CD4 was 406 cells/mm3. HIV RNA was 5.5 log10 copies/ml. Median total blood HIV DNA was higher in Fiebig III (550 copy/106 PBMC) vs. Fiebig I (8 copy/106 PBMC) (p = 0.01) while the median %CD4+CCR5+ gut T cells was lower in Fiebig III (19%) vs. Fiebig I (59%) (p = 0.0008).
After 24 weeks of megaHAART, HIV RNA levels of <50 copies were achieved in 14/15 in blood and 13/13 in gut. Total blood HIV DNA at week 0 predicted reservoir size at week 24 (p<0.001). Total HIV DNA declined significantly and was undetectable in 3 of 15 in blood and 3 of 7 in gut. Frequency of CD4+CCR5+ gut T cells increased from 41% at baseline to 64% at week 24 (p>0.050); subjects with less than 40% at baseline had a significant increase in CD4+CCR5+ T cells from baseline to week 24 (14% vs. 71%, p = 0.02).
Conclusions
Gut T cell depletion and HIV reservoir seeding increases with progression of AHI. MegaHAART was associated with immune restoration and reduced reservoir size. Our findings could inform research on strategies to achieve HIV drug-free remission.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033948
PMCID: PMC3316511  PMID: 22479485
11.  Safety and Reactogenicity of Canarypox ALVAC-HIV (vCP1521) and HIV-1 gp120 AIDSVAX B/E Vaccination in an Efficacy Trial in Thailand 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e27837.
Background
A prime-boost vaccination regimen with ALVAC-HIV (vCP1521) administered intramuscularly at 0, 4, 12, and 24 weeks and gp120 AIDSVAX B/E at 12 and 24 weeks demonstrated modest efficacy of 31.2% for prevention of HIV acquisition in HIV-uninfected adults participating in a community-based efficacy trial in Thailand.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Reactogenicity was recorded for 3 days following vaccination. Adverse events were monitored every 6 months for 3.5 years, during which pregnancy outcomes were recorded. Of the 16,402 volunteers, 69% of the participants reported an adverse event any time after the first dose. Only 32.9% experienced an AE within 30 days following any vaccination. Overall adverse event rates and attribution of relatedness did not differ between groups. The frequency of serious adverse events was similar in vaccine (14.3%) and placebo (14.9%) recipients (p = 0.33). None of the 160 deaths (85 in vaccine and 75 in placebo recipients, p = 0.43) was assessed as related to vaccine. The most common cause of death was trauma or traffic accident. Approximately 30% of female participants reported a pregnancy during the study. Abnormal pregnancy outcomes were experienced in 17.1% of vaccine and 14.6% (p = 0.13) of placebo recipients. When the conception occurred within 3 months (estimated) of a vaccination, the majority of these abnormal outcomes were spontaneous or elective abortions among 22.2% and 15.3% of vaccine and placebo pregnant recipients, respectively (p = 0.08). Local reactions occurred in 88.0% of vaccine and 61.0% of placebo recipients (p<0.001) and were more frequent after ALVAC-HIV than AIDSVAX B/E vaccination. Systemic reactions were more frequent in vaccine than placebo recipients (77.2% vs. 59.8%, p<0.001). Local and systemic reactions were mostly mild to moderate, resolving within 3 days.
Conclusions/Significance
The ALVAC-HIV and AIDSVAX B/E vaccine regimen was found to be safe, well tolerated and suitable for potential large-scale use in Thailand.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00223080
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027837
PMCID: PMC3244387  PMID: 22205930
12.  Phase I Safety and Immunogenicity Evaluation of MVA-CMDR, a Multigenic, Recombinant Modified Vaccinia Ankara-HIV-1 Vaccine Candidate 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e13983.
Background
We conducted a Phase I randomized, dose-escalation, route-comparison trial of MVA-CMDR, a candidate HIV-1 vaccine based on a recombinant modified vaccinia Ankara viral vector expressing HIV-1 genes env/gag/pol. The HIV sequences were derived from circulating recombinant form CRF01_AE, which predominates in Thailand. The objective was to evaluate safety and immunogenicity of MVA-CMDR in human volunteers in the US and Thailand.
Methodology/Principal Findings
MVA-CMDR or placebo was administered intra-muscularly (IM; 107 or 108 pfu) or intradermally (ID; 106 or 107 pfu) at months 0, 1 and 3, to 48 healthy volunteers at low risk for HIV-1 infection. Twelve volunteers in each dosage group were randomized to receive MVA-CMDR or placebo (10∶2). Volunteers were actively monitored for local and systemic reactogenicity and adverse events post vaccination. Cellular immunogenicity was assessed by a validated IFNγ Elispot assay, an intracellular cytokine staining assay, lymphocyte proliferation and a 51Cr-release assay. Humoral immunogenicity was assessed by ADCC for gp120 and binding antibody ELISAs for gp120 and p24. MVA-CMDR was safe and well tolerated with no vaccine related serious adverse events. Cell-mediated immune responses were: (i) moderate in magnitude (median IFNγ Elispot of 78 SFC/106 PBMC at 108 pfu IM), but high in response rate (70% 51Cr-release positive; 90% Elispot positive; 100% ICS positive, at 108 pfu IM); (ii) predominantly HIV Env-specific CD4+ T cells, with a high proliferative capacity and durable for at least 6 months (100% LPA response rate by the IM route); (iv) dose- and route-dependent with 108 pfu IM being the most immunogenic treatment. Binding antibodies against gp120 and p24 were detectable in all vaccination groups with ADCC capacity detectable at the highest dose (40% positive at 108 pfu IM).
Conclusions/Significance
MVA-CMDR delivered both intramuscularly and intradermally was safe, well-tolerated and elicited durable cell-mediated and humoral immune responses.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00376090
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013983
PMCID: PMC2981570  PMID: 21085591
13.  Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Elite Neutralizers: Individuals with Broad and Potent Neutralizing Activity Identified by Using a High-Throughput Neutralization Assay together with an Analytical Selection Algorithm▿ † 
Journal of Virology  2009;83(14):7337-7348.
The development of a rapid and efficient system to identify human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-infected individuals with broad and potent HIV-1-specific neutralizing antibody responses is an important step toward the discovery of critical neutralization targets for rational AIDS vaccine design. In this study, samples from HIV-1-infected volunteers from diverse epidemiological regions were screened for neutralization responses using pseudovirus panels composed of clades A, B, C, and D and circulating recombinant forms (CRFs). Initially, 463 serum and plasma samples from Australia, Rwanda, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and Zambia were screened to explore neutralization patterns and selection ranking algorithms. Samples were identified that neutralized representative isolates from at least four clade/CRF groups with titers above prespecified thresholds and ranked based on a weighted average of their log-transformed neutralization titers. Linear regression methods selected a five-pseudovirus subset, representing clades A, B, and C and one CRF01_AE, that could identify top-ranking samples with 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) neutralization titers of ≥100 to multiple isolates within at least four clade groups. This reduced panel was then used to screen 1,234 new samples from the Ivory Coast, Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States, and 1% were identified as elite neutralizers. Elite activity is defined as the ability to neutralize, on average, more than one pseudovirus at an IC50 titer of 300 within a clade group and across at least four clade groups. These elite neutralizers provide promising starting material for the isolation of broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies to assist in HIV-1 vaccine design.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00110-09
PMCID: PMC2704778  PMID: 19439467

Results 1-14 (14)