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.
DNA vaccine immunogenicity has been limited by inefficient delivery. Needle-free delivery of DNA using a CO2-powered Biojector® device was compared to delivery by needle and syringe and evaluated for safety and immunogenicity.
Forty adults, 18–50 years, were randomly assigned to intramuscular (IM) vaccinations with DNA vaccine, VRC-HIVDNA016-00-VP, (weeks 0, 4, 8) by Biojector® 2000™ or needle and syringe (N/S) and boosted IM at week 24 with VRC-HIVADV014-00-VP (rAd5) with N/S at 1010 or 1011 particle units (PU). Equal numbers per assigned schedule had low (≤500) or high (>500) reciprocal titers of preexisting Ad5 neutralizing antibody.
120 DNA and 39 rAd5 injections were given; 36 subjects completed follow-up research sample collections. IFN-γ ELISpot response rates were 17/19 (89%) for Biojector® and 13/17 (76%) for N/S delivery at Week 28 (4 weeks post rAd5 boost). The magnitude of ELISpot response was about 3-fold higher in Biojector® compared to N/S groups. Similar effects on response rates and magnitude were observed for CD8+, but not CD4+ T-cell responses by ICS. Env-specific antibody responses were about 10-fold higher in Biojector-primed subjects.
DNA vaccination by Biojector® was well-tolerated and compared to needle injection, primed for greater IFN-γ ELISpot, CD8+ T-cell, and antibody responses after rAd5 boosting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
HIV-1 neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) define key targets for vaccine development and are being considered for passive prevention of infection. We analyzed the interaction of MAbs to two independent epitopes on the viral envelope glycoprotein. Potently neutralizing MAbs to the CD4 binding site and V1V2 region displayed no in vitro cross-competition and displayed additive, though not synergistic, neutralization activity. Predicted neutralization coverage of a combination of two MAbs reached 97% on a 208-isolate panel.
Background. West Nile virus (WNV) is a flavivirus that causes meningitis and encephalitis. There are no licensed vaccines to prevent WNV in humans. The safety and immunogenicity of a first-generation WNV DNA vaccine was demonstrated in a clinical trial and a similar DNA vaccine has been licensed for use in horses.
Methods. A DNA vaccine encoding the protein premembrane and the E glycoproteins of the NY99 strain of WNV under the transcriptional control of the CMV/R promoter was evaluated in an open-label study in 30 healthy adults. Half of the subjects were age 18–50 years and half were age 51–65 years. Immune responses were assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, neutralization assays, intracellular cytokine staining, and ELISpot.
Results. The 3-dose vaccine regimen was safe and well tolerated. Vaccine-induced T cell and neutralizing antibody responses were detected in the majority of subjects. The antibody responses seen in the older age group were of similar frequency, magnitude, and duration as those seen in the younger cohort.
Conclusions. Neutralizing antibody responses to WNV were elicited by DNA vaccination in humans, including in older individuals, where responses to traditional vaccine approaches are often diminished. This DNA vaccine elicited T cell responses of greater magnitude when compared with an earlier-generation construct utilizing a CMV promoter.
Clinical Trials Registration. NCT00300417.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine development remains a global priority. We describe the safety and immunogenicity of a multi-clade DNA vaccine prime with a replication-defective Adenovirus type 5 (rAd5) boost.
The vaccine is a 6-plasmid mixture encoding HIV envelope (env) subtypes A, B and C and subtype B gag, pol and nef, and a rAd5 expressing identical genes, with the exception of nef. Three hundred and twenty-four participants were randomized to receive placebo (n=138), a single dose of rAd5 at 1010 (n=24) or 1011 particle units (n=24), or DNA at 0, 1 and 2 months followed by rAd5 at either 1010 (n=114) or 1011 particle units (n=24) boosting at 6 months. Participants were followed for 24 weeks after the final immunization.
The vaccine was safe and well tolerated. HIV-specific T cell responses were detected in 63% of vaccinees. Pre-existing Ad5 neutralizing antibody titer did not impact the frequency and magnitude of T cell responses in prime-boost recipients, but did impact the response rates in participants receiving rAd5 alone (p=0.037).
The DNA/rAd5 immunization regimen was safe and induced HIV-1 multi-clade T cell responses, which were not significantly affected by pre-existing rAd5 neutralizing antibody titer.
HIV-1 Vaccine; DNA plasmid vaccine; recombinant Adenovirus vaccine; Africa vaccine trial
We conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled Phase I study of a recombinant replication-defective adenovirus type 5 (rAd5) vector expressing HIV-1 Gag and Pol from subtype B and Env from subtypes A, B and C, given alone or as boost following a DNA plasmid vaccine expressing the same HIV-1 proteins plus Nef, in 114 healthy HIV-uninfected African adults.
Volunteers were randomized to 4 groups receiving the rAd5 vaccine intramuscularly at dosage levels of 1×1010 or 1×1011 particle units (PU) either alone or as boost following 3 injections of the DNA vaccine given at 4 mg/dose intramuscularly by needle-free injection using Biojector® 2000. Safety and immunogenicity were evaluated for 12 months. Both vaccines were well-tolerated. Overall, 62% and 86% of vaccine recipients in the rAd5 alone and DNA prime - rAd5 boost groups, respectively, responded to the HIV-1 proteins by an interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) ELISPOT. The frequency of immune responses was independent of rAd5 dosage levels. The highest frequency of responses after rAd5 alone was detected at 6 weeks; after DNA prime - rAd5 boost, at 6 months (end of study). At baseline, neutralizing antibodies against Ad5 were present in 81% of volunteers; the distribution was similar across the 4 groups. Pre-existing immunity to Ad5 did not appear to have a significant impact on reactogenicity or immune response rates to HIV antigens by IFN-γ ELISPOT. Binding antibodies against Env were detected in up to 100% recipients of DNA prime - rAd5 boost. One volunteer acquired HIV infection after the study ended, two years after receipt of rAd5 alone.
The HIV-1 rAd5 vaccine, either alone or as a boost following HIV-1 DNA vaccine, was well-tolerated and immunogenic in African adults. DNA priming increased the frequency and magnitude of cellular and humoral immune responses, but there was no effect of rAd5 dosage on immunogenicity endpoints.
SARS-CoV infection of human results in antigen-specific cellular and humoral immune responses. However, it is critical to determine whether SARS-CoV-specific memory T cells can persist for long periods of time. In this study, we analyzed the cellular immune response from 21 SARS-recovered individuals who had been diagnosed with SARS in 2003 by using ELISA, CBA, ELISpot and multiparameter flow cytometry assays. Our results demonstrated that low levels of specific memory T cell responses to SARS-CoV S, M, E and N peptides were detected in a proportion of SARS-recovered patients, and IFN-γ was the predominant cytokine produced by T cells after stimulation with peptides. Cytometry analysis indicated that the majority of memory CD8+ T cells produced IFN-γ, whereas memory CD4+ T cells produced IFN-γ, IL-2 or TNF-α. These results might provide valuable information on the cellular immune response in recovered SARS-CoV patients for the rational design of vaccines against SARS-CoV infection.
The administration of vectors designed to elicited cell-mediated immune responses may have other consequences that are clinically significant. To explore this possibility, we evaluated T-cell activation during the first 2 months after recombinant adenovirus serotype 5 (rAd5) prime or boost immunizations in rhesus monkeys. We also evaluated the kinetics of T-lymphocyte activation in both the systemic and the mucosal compartments after rAd5 administration in monkeys with preexisting immunity to Ad5. The rAd5 immunization induced lower-frequency Gag epitope-specific CD8+ T cells in the colonic mucosa than in the peripheral blood. There was evidence of an expansion of the simian immunodeficiency virus Gag-specific CD8+ T-cell responses, but not the Ad5 hexon-specific T-cell responses, following a homologous rAd5 boost. A striking but transient T-lymphocyte activation in both the systemic and the mucosal compartments of rhesus monkeys was observed after rAd5 immunization. These findings indicate that the administration of a vaccine vector such as Ad5 can induce a global activation of T cells.
Induction of HIV-1-specific T-cell responses relevant to diverse subtypes is a major goal of HIV vaccine development. Prime-boost regimens using heterologous gene-based vaccine vectors have induced potent, polyfunctional T cell responses in preclinical studies.
The first opportunity to evaluate the immunogenicity of DNA priming followed by recombinant adenovirus serotype 5 (rAd5) boosting was as open-label rollover trials in subjects who had been enrolled in prior studies of HIV-1 specific DNA vaccines. All subjects underwent apheresis before and after rAd5 boosting to characterize in depth the T cell and antibody response induced by the heterologous DNA/rAd5 prime-boost combination.
rAd5 boosting was well-tolerated with no serious adverse events. Compared to DNA or rAd5 vaccine alone, sequential DNA/rAd5 administration induced 7-fold higher magnitude Env-biased HIV-1-specific CD8+ T-cell responses and 100-fold greater antibody titers measured by ELISA. There was no significant neutralizing antibody activity against primary isolates. Vaccine-elicited CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells expressed multiple functions and were predominantly long-term (CD127+) central or effector memory T cells and that persisted in blood for >6 months. Epitopes mapped in Gag and Env demonstrated partial cross-clade recognition.
Heterologous prime-boost using vector-based gene delivery of vaccine antigens is a potent immunization strategy for inducing both antibody and T-cell responses.
ClinicalTrails.gov NCT00102089, NCT00108654
The magnitude and character of adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5)-specific T cells were determined in volunteers with and without preexisting neutralizing antibodies (NAs) to Ad5 who received replication-defective Ad5 (rAd5)-based human immunodeficiency virus vaccines. There was no correlation between T-cell responses and NAs to Ad5. There was no increase in magnitude or activation state of Ad5-specific CD4+ T cells at time points where antibodies to Ad5 and T-cell responses to the recombinant gene products could be measured. These data indicate that rAd5-based vaccines containing deletions in the E1, E3, and E4 regions do not induce appreciable expansion of vector-specific CD4+ T cells.
The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus is a member of the Coronaviridae (CoV) family that first appeared in the Guangdong Province of China in 2002 and was recognized as an emerging infectious disease in March 2003. Over 8,000 cases and 900 deaths occurred during the epidemic. We report the safety and immunogenicity of a SARS DNA vaccine in a Phase I human study.
A single-plasmid DNA vaccine encoding the Spike (S) glycoprotein was evaluated in 10 healthy adults. Nine subjects completed the 3 dose vaccination schedule and were evaluated for vaccine safety and immune responses. Immune response was assessed by intracellular cytokine staining (ICS), ELISpot, ELISA, and neutralization assays.
The vaccine was well-tolerated. SARS-CoV-specific antibody was detected by ELISA in 8 of 10 subjects and neutralizing antibody was detected in all subjects who received 3 doses of vaccine. SARS-CoV-specific CD4+ T cell responses were detected in all vaccinees, and CD8+ T cell responses in ∼20% of individuals.
The VRC SARS DNA vaccine was well tolerated and produced cellular immune responses and neutralizing antibody in healthy adults.
T cell vaccine; emerging infectious disease; vaccine clinical trial
The Vaccine Research Center has developed vaccine candidates for different diseases/infectious agents (including HIV-1, Ebola, and Marburg viruses) built on an adenovirus vector platform, based on adenovirus type 5 or 35. To support clinical development of each vaccine candidate, pre-clinical studies were performed in rabbits to determine where in the body they biodistribute and how rapidly they clear, and to screen for potential toxicities (intrinsic and immunotoxicities). The vaccines biodistribute only to spleen, liver (Ad5 only), and/or iliac lymph node (Ad35 only) and otherwise remain in the site of injection muscle and overlying subcutis. Though ∼1011 viral particles were inoculated, already by Day 9, all but 103 to 105 genome copies per μg of DNA had cleared from the injection site muscle. By three months, the adenovector was cleared with, at most, a few animals retaining a small number of copies in the injection site, spleen (Ad5), or iliac lymph node (Ad35). This pattern of limited biodistribution and extensive clearance is consistent regardless of differences in adenovector type (Ad5 or 35), manufacturer's construct and production methods, or gene-insert. Repeated dose toxicology studies identified treatment-related toxicities confined primarily to the sites of injection, in certain clinical pathology parameters, and in body temperatures (Ad5 vectors) and food consumption immediately post-inoculation. Systemic reactogenicity and reactogenicity at the sites of injection demonstrated reversibility. These data demonstrate the safety and suitability for investigational human use of Ad5 or Ad35 adenovector-based vaccine candidates at doses of up to 2 × 1011 given intramuscularly to prevent various infectious diseases.
Adenovirus vector; Adenovirus Type 5; Adenovirus Type 35; HIV-1; Ebola; Marburg; Biodistribution; Repeated Dose Toxicology; Safety; Vaccine
West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquitoborne flavivirus that can cause severe meningitis and encephalitis in infected individuals. We report the safety and immunogenicity of a WNV DNA vaccine in its first phase 1 human study.
A single-plasmid DNA vaccine encoding the premembrane and the envelope glycoproteins of the NY99 strain of WNV was evaluated in an open-label study in 15 healthy adults. Twelve subjects completed the 3-dose vaccination schedule, and all subjects completed 32 weeks of evaluation for safety and immunogenicity. The development of a vaccine-induced immune response was assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay, neutralization assays, intracelluar cytokine staining, and enzyme-linked immunospot assay.
The vaccine was safe and well tolerated, with no significant adverse events. Vaccine-induced T cell and antibody responses were detected in the majority of subjects. Neutralizing antibody to WNV was detected in all subjects who completed the 3-dose vaccination schedule, at levels shown to be protective in studies of horses, an incidental natural host for WNV.
Further assessment of this DNA platform for human immunization against WNV is warranted.
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00106769.
The membrane (M) protein of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) is a major glycoprotein with multiple biological functions. In this study, we found that memory T cells against M protein were persistent in recovered SARS patients by detecting gamma interferon (IFN-γ) production using ELISA and ELISpot assays. Flow cytometric analysis showed that both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were involved in cellular responses to SARS-CoV M antigen. Furthermore, memory CD8+ T cells displayed an effector memory cell phenotype expressing CD45RO− CCR7− CD62L−. In contrast, the majority of IFN-γ+ CD4+ T cells were central memory cells with the expression of CD45RO+ CCR7+ CD62L−. The epitope screening from 30 synthetic overlapping peptides that cover the entire SARS-CoV M protein identified four human T-cell immunodominant peptides, p21−44, p65−91, p117−140 and p200−220. All four immunodominant peptides could elicit cellular immunity with a predominance of CD8+ T-cell response. This data may have important implication for developing SARS vaccines.
Gene-based vaccine delivery is an important strategy in the development of a preventive vaccine for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Vaccine Research Center (VRC) 004 is the first phase 1 dose-escalation study of a multiclade HIV-1 DNA vaccine.
VRC-HIVDNA009−00-VP is a 4-plasmid mixture encoding subtype B Gag-Pol-Nef fusion protein and modified envelope (Env) constructs from subtypes A, B, and C. Fifty healthy, uninfected adults were randomized to receive either placebo (n = 10) or study vaccine at 2 mg (n = 5), 4 mg (n = 20), or 8 mg (n = 15) by needle-free intramuscular injection. Humoral responses (measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay, Western blotting, and neutralization assay) and T cell responses (measured by enzyme-linked immunospot assay and intracellular cytokine staining after stimulation with antigen-specific peptide pools) were measured.
The vaccine was well tolerated and induced cellular and humoral responses. The maximal CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses occurred after 3 injections and were in response to Env peptide pools. The pattern of cytokine expression by vaccine-induced HIV-specific T cells evolved over time, with a diminished frequency of interferon-γ–producing T cells and an increased frequency of interleukin-2–producing T cells at 1 year.
DNA vaccination induced antibody to and T cell responses against 3 major HIV-1 subtypes and will be further evaluated as a potential component of a preventive AIDS vaccine regimen.
The development of an effective human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine is a high global priority. Here, we report the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of a replication-defective recombinant adenovirus serotype 5 (rAd5) vector HIV-1 candidate vaccine.
The vaccine is a mixture of 4 rAd5 vectors that express HIV-1 subtype B Gag-Pol fusion protein and envelope (Env) from subtypes A, B, and C. Healthy, uninfected adults were randomized to receive 1 intramuscular injection of placebo (n = 6) or vaccine at dose levels of 109 (n = 10), 1010 (n = 10), or 1011 (n = 10) particle units and were followed for 24 weeks to assess immunogenicity and safety.
The vaccine was well tolerated but was associated with more reactogenicity at the highest dose. At week 4, vaccine antigen–specific T cell responses were detected in 28 (93.3%) and 18 (60%) of 30 vaccine recipients for CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, respectively, by intracellular cytokine staining assay and in 22 (73%) of 30 vaccine recipients by enzyme-linked immunospot assay. Env-specific antibody responses were detected in 15 (50%) of 30 vaccine recipients by enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay and in 28 (93.3%) of 30 vaccine recipients by immunoprecipitation followed by Western blotting. No neutralizing antibody was detected.
A single injection induced HIV-1 antigen–specific CD4+ T cell, CD8+ T cell, and antibody responses in the majority of vaccine recipients. This multiclade rAd5 HIV-1 vaccine is now being evaluated in combination with a multiclade HIV-1 DNA plasmid vaccine.
The Vaccine Research Center has developed a number of vaccine candidates for different diseases/infectious agents (HIV-1, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus, West Nile virus, and Ebola virus, plus a plasmid cytokine adjuvant—IL-2/Ig) based on a DNA plasmid vaccine platform. To support the clinical development of each of these vaccine candidates, preclinical studies were performed to screen for potential toxicities (intrinsic and immunotoxicities). All treatment-related toxicities identified in these repeated-dose toxicology studies have been confined primarily to the sites of injection and seem to be the result of both the delivery method (as they are seen in both control and treated animals) and the intended immune response to the vaccine (as they occur with greater frequency and severity in treated animals). Reactogenicity at the site of injection is generally seen to be reversible as the frequency and severity diminished between doses and between the immediate and recovery termination time points. This observation also correlated with the biodistribution data reported in the companion article (Sheets et al., 2006), in which DNA plasmid vaccine was shown to remain at the site of injection, rather than biodistributing widely, and to clear over time. The results of these safety studies have been submitted to the Food and Drug Administration to support the safety of initiating clinical studies with these and related DNA plasmid vaccines. Thus far, standard repeated-dose toxicology studies have not identified any target organs for toxicity (other than the injection site) for our DNA plasmid vaccines at doses up to 8 mg per immunization, regardless of disease indication (i.e., expressed gene-insert) and despite differences (strengths) in the promoters used to drive this expression. As clinical data accumulate with these products, it will be possible to retrospectively compare the safety profiles of the products in the clinic to the results of the repeated-dose toxicology studies, in order to determine the utility of such toxicology studies for signaling potential immunotoxicities or intrinsic toxicities from DNA vaccines. These data build on the biodistribution studies performed (see companion article, Sheets et al., 2006) to demonstrate the safety and suitability for investigational human use of DNA plasmid vaccine candidates for a variety of infectious disease prevention indications.
DNA vaccines; HIV/AIDS; SARS; WNV; Ebola; DNA vaccine toxicology; plasmid vaccines
To evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of a candidate HIV DNA vaccine administered using a needle-free device.
In this phase 1, dose escalation, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, 21 healthy adults were randomized to receive placebo or 0.5, 1.5, or 4 mg of a single plasmid expressing a Gag/Pol fusion protein. Each participant received repeat immunizations at days 28 and 56 after the first inoculation. Safety and immunogenicity data were collected.
The vaccine was well tolerated, with most adverse events being mild injection site reactions, including pain, tenderness, and erythema. No dose-limiting toxicities occurred. HIV-specific antibody response was not detected in any vaccinee by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. HIV-specific T-cell responses to Gag or Pol as measured by enzyme-linked immunospot assay and intracellular cytokine staining were of low frequency and magnitude.
This candidate HIV DNA vaccine was safe and well tolerated. No HIV-specific antibody responses were detected, and only low-magnitude HIV-specific T-cell responses were detected in 8 (53%) of 15 vaccinees. This initial product led to the development of a 4-plasmid multiclade HIV DNA Vaccine Research Center vaccine candidate in which envelope genes expressing Env from clades A, B, and C and a Nef gene from clade B have been added.
CD4+ T-cell immune response; gene delivery; immunization; needle-free device; plasmid vaccine; safety
Modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) was evaluated as an alternative to Dryvax® in vaccinia-naïve and immune adult volunteers. Subjects received intramuscular MVA or placebo followed by Dryvax® challenge at 3 months. Two or more doses of MVA prior to Dryvax® reduced severity of lesion formation, decreased magnitude and duration of viral shedding, and augmented post-Dryvax® vaccinia-specific CD8+ T cell responses and extracellular enveloped virus protein-specific antibody responses. MVA vaccination is safe and immunogenic and improves the safety and immunogenicity of subsequent Dryvax® vaccination supporting the potential for using MVA as a vaccine in the general population to improve immunity to orthopoxviruses.
smallpox; orthopoxvirus; vaccine
Vaccinia virus immunization provides lifelong protection against smallpox, but the mechanisms of this exquisite protection are unknown. We used polychromatic flow cytometry to characterize the functional and phenotypic profile of CD8+ T cells induced by vaccinia virus immunization in a comparative vaccine trial of modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) versus Dryvax immunization in which protection was assessed against subsequent Dryvax challenge. Vaccinia virus–specific CD8+ T cells induced by both MVA and Dryvax were highly polyfunctional; they degranulated and produced interferon γ, interleukin 2, macrophage inflammatory protein 1β, and tumor necrosis factor α after antigenic stimulation. Responding CD8+ T cells exhibited an unusual phenotype (CD45RO−CD27intermediate). The unique phenotype and high degree of polyfunctionality induced by vaccinia virus also extended to inserted HIV gene products of recombinant NYVAC. This quality of the CD8+ T cell response may be at least partially responsible for the profound efficacy of these vaccines in protection against smallpox and serves as a benchmark against which other vaccines can be evaluated.
Ebola viruses represent a class of filoviruses that causes severe hemorrhagic fever with high mortality. Recognized first in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, outbreaks continue to occur in equatorial Africa. A safe and effective Ebola virus vaccine is needed because of its continued emergence and its potential for use for biodefense. We report the safety and immunogenicity of an Ebola virus vaccine in its first phase I human study. A three-plasmid DNA vaccine encoding the envelope glycoproteins (GP) from the Zaire and Sudan/Gulu species as well as the nucleoprotein was evaluated in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, dose escalation study. Healthy adults, ages 18 to 44 years, were randomized to receive three injections of vaccine at 2 mg (n = 5), 4 mg (n = 8), or 8 mg (n = 8) or placebo (n = 6). Immunogenicity was assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), immunoprecipitation-Western blotting, intracellular cytokine staining (ICS), and enzyme-linked immunospot assay. The vaccine was well-tolerated, with no significant adverse events or coagulation abnormalities. Specific antibody responses to at least one of the three antigens encoded by the vaccine as assessed by ELISA and CD4+ T-cell GP-specific responses as assessed by ICS were detected in 20/20 vaccinees. CD8+ T-cell GP-specific responses were detected by ICS assay in 6/20 vaccinees. This Ebola virus DNA vaccine was safe and immunogenic in humans. Further assessment of the DNA platform alone and in combination with replication-defective adenoviral vector vaccines, in concert with challenge and immune data from nonhuman primates, will facilitate evaluation and potential licensure of an Ebola virus vaccine under the Animal Rule.
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.
The development of a human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccine that elicits potent cellular and humoral immune responses recognizing divergent strains of HIV-1 will be critical for combating the global AIDS epidemic. The present studies were initiated to examine the magnitude and breadth of envelope (Env)-specific T-lymphocyte and antibody responses generated by vaccines containing either a single or multiple genetically distant HIV-1 Env immunogens. Rhesus monkeys were immunized with DNA prime-recombinant adenovirus boost vaccines encoding a Gag-Pol-Nef polyprotein in combination with either a single Env or a mixture of clade-A, clade-B, and clade-C Envs. Monkeys receiving the multiclade Env immunization developed robust immune responses to all vaccine antigens and, importantly, a greater breadth of Env recognition than monkeys immunized with vaccines including a single Env immunogen. All groups of vaccinated monkeys demonstrated equivalent immune protection following challenge with the pathogenic simian-human immunodeficiency virus 89.6P. These data suggest that a multicomponent vaccine encoding Env proteins from multiple clades of HIV-1 can generate broad Env-specific T-lymphocyte and antibody responses without antigenic interference. This study demonstrates that it is possible to generate protective immune responses by vaccination with genetically diverse isolates of HIV-1.