Interrogating immune correlates of infection risk for efficacious and non-efficacious HIV-1 vaccine clinical trials have provided hypotheses regarding the mechanisms of induction of protective immunity to HIV-1. To date, there have been six HIV-1 vaccine efficacy trials (VAX003, Vaxgen, Inc., San Francisco, CA, USA), VAX004 (Vaxgen, Inc.), HIV-1 Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) 502 (Step), HVTN 503 (Phambili), RV144 (sponsored by the U.S. Military HIV Research Program, MHRP) and HVTN 505). Cellular, humoral, host genetic and virus sieve analyses of these human clinical trials each can provide information that may point to potentially protective mechanisms for vaccine-induced immunity. Critical to staying on the path toward development of an efficacious vaccine is utilizing information from previous human and non-human primate studies in concert with new discoveries of basic HIV-1 host-virus interactions. One way that past discoveries from correlate analyses can lead to novel inventions or new pathways toward vaccine efficacy is to examine the intersections where different components of the correlate analyses overlap (e.g., virus sieve analysis combined with humoral correlates) that can point to mechanistic hypotheses. Additionally, differences in durability among vaccine-induced T- and B-cell responses indicate that time post-vaccination is an important variable. Thus, understanding the nature of protective responses, the degree to which such responses have, or have not, as yet, been induced by previous vaccine trials and the design of strategies to induce durable T- and B-cell responses are critical to the development of a protective HIV-1 vaccine.
HIV-1; vaccine; immune correlate; protection; immunity; clinical trials
A safe and effective vaccine for the prevention of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection is a global priority. We tested the efficacy of a DNA prime–recombinant adenovirus type 5 boost (DNA/rAd5) vaccine regimen in persons at increased risk for HIV-1 infection in the United States.
At 21 sites, we randomly assigned 2504 men or transgender women who have sex with men to receive the DNA/rAd5 vaccine (1253 participants) or placebo (1251 participants). We assessed HIV-1 acquisition from week 28 through month 24 (termed week 28+ infection), viral-load set point (mean plasma HIV-1 RNA level 10 to 20 weeks after diagnosis), and safety. The 6-plasmid DNA vaccine (expressing clade B Gag, Pol, and Nef and Env proteins from clades A, B, and C) was administered at weeks 0, 4, and 8. The rAd5 vector boost (expressing clade B Gag-Pol fusion protein and Env glycoproteins from clades A, B, and C) was administered at week 24.
In April 2013, the data and safety monitoring board recommended halting vaccinations for lack of efficacy. The primary analysis showed that week 28+ infection had been diagnosed in 27 participants in the vaccine group and 21 in the placebo group (vaccine efficacy, −25.0%; 95% confidence interval, −121.2 to 29.3; P = 0.44), with mean viral-load set points of 4.46 and 4.47 HIV-1 RNA log10 copies per milliliter, respectively. Analysis of all infections during the study period (41 in the vaccine group and 31 in the placebo group) also showed lack of vaccine efficacy (P = 0.28). The vaccine regimen had an acceptable side-effect profile.
The DNA/rAd5 vaccine regimen did not reduce either the rate of HIV-1 acquisition or the viral-load set point in the population studied. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00865566.)
The RV144 HIV-1 trial of the canary pox vector (ALVAC-HIV) plus the gp120 AIDSVAX B/E vaccine demonstrated an estimated efficacy of 31%, that correlated directly with antibodies to HIV-1 envelope variable regions 1 and 2 (V1–V2). Genetic analysis of trial viruses revealed increased vaccine efficacy against viruses matching the vaccine strain at V2 residue 169. Here, we isolated four V2 monoclonal antibodies from RV144 vaccinees that recognize residue 169, neutralize laboratory-adapted HIV-1, and mediate killing of field isolate HIV-1-infected CD4+ T cells. Crystal structures of two of the V2 antibodies demonstrated residue 169 can exist within divergent helical and loop conformations, which contrasted dramatically with the beta strand conformation previously observed with a broadly neutralizing antibody PG9. Thus, RV144 vaccine-induced immune pressure appears to target a region that may be both sequence variable and structurally polymorphic. Variation may signal sites of HIV-1 envelope vulnerability, providing vaccine designers with new options.
Affinity maturation of the antibody response is a fundamental process in adaptive immunity during which B-cells activated by infection or vaccination undergo rapid proliferation accompanied by the acquisition of point mutations in their rearranged immunoglobulin (Ig) genes and selection for increased affinity for the eliciting antigen. The rate of somatic hypermutation at any position within an Ig gene is known to depend strongly on the local DNA sequence, and Ig genes have region-specific codon biases that influence the local mutation rate within the gene resulting in increased differential mutability in the regions that encode the antigen-binding domains. We have isolated a set of clonally related natural Ig heavy chain–light chain pairs from an experimentally infected influenza patient, inferred the unmutated ancestral rearrangements and the maturation intermediates, and synthesized all the antibodies using recombinant methods. The lineage exhibits a remarkably uniform rate of improvement of the effective affinity to influenza hemagglutinin (HA) over evolutionary time, increasing 1000-fold overall from the unmutated ancestor to the best of the observed antibodies. Furthermore, analysis of selection reveals that selection and mutation bias were concordant even at the level of maturation to a single antigen. Substantial improvement in affinity to HA occurred along mutationally preferred paths in sequence space and was thus strongly facilitated by the underlying local codon biases.
somatic hypermutation; experimental influenza infection; antibody selection; antibody affinity maturation; phylogenetics
To determine the spectrum of antiviral antibodies in HIV-1-infected individuals in whom viral replication is spontaneously undetectable, termed HIV controllers (HICs).
Multicenter French trial ANRS EP36 studying the viral control in HICs.
Neutralizing Antibody (nAb) activities (neutralization assay, competition with broadly reactive monoclonal antibodies, and reactivity against the viral MPER gp41 region), FcγR-mediated antiviral activities, antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity (ADCC), as well as autoantibody levels, were quantified in plasma from 22 controllers and from viremic individuals. The levels of these different antibody responses and HIV-specific CD8 T cell responses quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot (ELISPOT) IFNγ assay were compared in each controller.
The levels of antibody against the gp120 CD4 binding site, gp41, as well as Env epitopes near to the sites bound by broadly nAbs 2F5 and 1b12 were not different between HICs and viremic individuals. We did not find significant autoantibody levels in HICs. The magnitude and breadth of nAbs were heterogeneous in HICs but lower than in viremic individuals. The levels of nAbs using FcγR-mediated assay inhibition were similar in both groups. Regardless of the type of antibody tested, there was no correlation with HIV-specific CD8 T cell responses. ADCC was detectable in all controllers tested and was significantly higher than in viremic individuals (P <0.0002).
There was no single anti-HIV-1 antibody specificity that was a clear correlate of immunity in controllers. Rather, for most antibody types, controllers had the same or lower levels of nAbs than viremic individuals, with the possible exception of ADCC antibodies.
antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity; FcγR; HIV controller; humoral immunity; neutralizing antibodies
Attempts to formulate a protective HIV-1 vaccine through classic vaccine design strategies have not been successful. Elicitation of HIV-1-specific broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) at high titers that are present before exposure might be required to achieve protection. Recently, the application of new technologies has facilitated the study of clonal lineages of HIV-1 envelope (Env) antibodies, which have provided insights into HIV-1 antibody development during infection and upon vaccination. Strategies are being developed for the analysis of infection and vaccine candidate-induced antibodies, their gene usage, and their maturation pathways such that this information can be used to attempt to guide rational vaccine design.
HIV-1 vaccine; broadly neutralizing antibodies; immunogen design
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.
An immune correlates analysis of the RV144 HIV-1 vaccine trial revealed that antibody responses to the gp120 V1/V2 region correlated inversely with infection risk. The RV144 protein immunogens (A244-rp120 and MN-rgp120) were modified by an N-terminal 11-amino-acid deletion (Δ11) and addition of a herpes simplex virus (HSV) gD protein-derived tag (gD). We investigated the effects of these modifications on gp120 expression, antigenicity, and immunogenicity by comparing unmodified A244 gp120 with both Δ11 deletion and gD tag and with Δ11 only. Analysis of A244 gp120, with or without Δ11 or gD, demonstrated that the Δ11 deletion, without the addition of gD, was sufficient for enhanced antigenicity to gp120 C1 region, conformational V2, and V1/V2 gp120 conformational epitopes. RV144 vaccinee serum IgGs bound more avidly to A244 gp120 Δ11 than to the unmodified gp120, and their binding was blocked by C1, V2, and V1/V2 antibodies. Rhesus macaques immunized with the three different forms of A244 gp120 proteins gave similar levels of gp120 antibody titers, although higher antibody titers developed earlier in A244 Δ11 gp120-immunized animals. Conformational V1/V2 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) gave significantly higher levels of blocking of plasma IgG from A244 Δ11 gp120-immunized animals than IgG from animals immunized with unmodified A244 gp120, thus indicating a qualitative difference in the V1/V2 antibodies induced by A244 Δ11 gp120. These results demonstrate that deletion of N-terminal residues in the RV144 A244 gp120 immunogen improves both envelope antigenicity and immunogenicity.
We evaluated the immunogenicity and efficacy of Vaxfectin® adjuvanted SIV DNA vaccines in mice and macaques. Vaccination of mice with Vaxfectin® adjuvanted SIV gag DNA induced higher humoral immune responses than administration of unadjuvanted DNA, whereas similar levels of cellular immunity were elicited. Vaxfectin® adjuvanted SIVmac251 gag and env DNA immunization of rhesus macaques was used to examine magnitude, durability, and efficacy of humoral immunity. Vaccinated macaques elicited potent neutralizing antibodies able to cross-neutralize the heterologous SIVsmE660 Env. We found remarkable durability of Gag and Env humoral responses, sustained during ~2 y of follow-up. The Env-specific antibody responses induced by Vaxfectin® adjuvanted env DNA vaccination disseminated into mucosal tissues, as demonstrated by their presence in saliva, including responses to the V1-V2 region, and rectal fluids. The efficacy of the immune responses was evaluated upon intrarectal challenge with low repeated dose SIVmac251. Although 2 of the 3 vaccinees became infected, these animals showed significantly lower peak virus loads and lower chronic viremia than non-immunized infected controls. Thus, Vaxfectin® adjuvanted DNA is a promising vaccine approach for inducing potent immune responses able to control the highly pathogenic SIVmac251.
HIV; Rhesus macaques; SIVmac239; SIVsmE660; V1 and V2 antibodies; adjuvant; antibody; avidity; mucosal immunity; neutralizing antibody; rectal fluid; saliva; systemic immunity
Previous studies have revealed that HIV infected individuals possess circulating CD4+CD8+ (DP) T-cells specific for HIV antigens. In the present study, we analyzed the proliferation and functional profile of circulating DP T-cells from 30 acutely HIV infected individuals and 10 chronically HIV infected viral controllers. The acutely infected group had DP T-cells which showed more proliferative capability and multifunctionality than both their CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells. DP T-cells were found to exhibit greater proliferation and higher multifunctionality compared to CD4 T-cells in the viral controller group. The DP T-cell response represented 16% of the total anti-HIV proliferative response and greater than 70% of the anti-HIV multifunctional response in the acutely infected subjects. Proliferating DP T-cells of the acutely infected subjects responded to all HIV antigen pools with equal magnitude. Conversely, the multifunctional response was focused on the pool representing Nef, Rev, Tat, VPR and VPU. Meanwhile, the controllers’ DP T-cells focused on Gag and the Nef, Rev, Tat, VPR and VPU pool for both their proliferative and multifunctional responses. Finally, we show that the presence of proliferating DP T-cells following all HIV antigen stimulations is well correlated with proliferating CD4 T-cells while multifunctionality appears to be largely independent of multifunctionality in other T-cell compartments. Therefore, DP T-cells represent a highly reactive cell population during acute HIV infection, which responds independently from the traditional T-cell compartments.
We have developed a high throughput platform to detect the presence of HIV-1 and SIV-specific ADCC-mediating antibody responses. The assay is based on the hydrolysis of a cell-permeable fluorogenic peptide substrate containing a sequence recognized by the serine protease, Granzyme B (GzB). GzB is delivered into target cells by cytotoxic effector cells as a result of antigen (Ag)-specific Ab-Fcγ receptor interactions. Within the target cells, effector cell-derived GzB hydrolyzes the substrate, generating a fluorescent signal that allows individual target cells that have received a lethal hit to be identified by flow cytometry. Results are reported as the percentage of target cells with GzB activity (%GzB). Freshly isolated or cryopreserved PBMC and/or NK cells can be used as effector cells. CEM.NKR cells expressing the CCR5 co-receptor are used as a target cells following (i) coating with recombinant envelope glycoprotein, (ii) infection with infectious molecular clones expressing the Env antigens of primary and lab adapted viruses, or (iii) chronic infection with a variant of HIV-1/IIIB, termed A1953. In addition, primary CD4+ T cells infected with HIV-1 in vitro can also be used as targets. The assay is highly reproducible with a coefficient of variation of less than 25%. Target and effector cell populations, in the absence of serum/plasma, were used to calculate background (8.6±2.3%). We determined that an initial dilution of 1:50 and 1:100 is required for testing of human and non-human primate samples, respectively. This assay allows for rapid quantification of HIV-1 or SIV-specific ADCC-mediating antibodies that develop in response to vaccination, or in the natural course of infection, thus providing researchers with a new methodology for investigating the role of ADCC-mediating antibodies as correlates of control or prevention of HIV-1 and SIV infection.
ADCC; HIV; SIV; NK; Fc gamma receptors; Granzyme B; high throughput
Different HIV-1 antigen specificities appear in sequence after HIV-1 transmission and the immunoglobulin G (IgG) subclass responses to HIV antigens are distinct from each other. The initial predominant IgG subclass response to HIV-1 infection consists of IgG1 and IgG3 antibodies with a noted decline in some IgG3 antibodies during acute HIV-1 infection. Thus, we postulate that multiple antigen-specific IgG3 responses may serve as surrogates for the relative time since HIV-1 acquisition.
We determined the magnitude, peak, and half-life of HIV-1 antigen-specific IgG1 and IgG3 antibodies in 41 HIV-1-infected individuals followed longitudinally from acute infection during the first appearance of HIV-1-specific antibodies through approximately 6 months after infection.
We used quantitative HIV-1-binding antibody multiplex assays and exponential decay models to estimate concentrations of IgG1 and IgG3 antibodies to eight different HIV-1 proteins including gp140 Env, gp120 Env, gp41 Env, p66 reverse transcriptase, p31 Integrase, Tat, Nef, and p55 Gag proteins during acute/recent HIV-1 infection.
Among HIV-1-specific IgG3 responses, anti-gp41 IgG3 antibodies were the first to appear. We found that anti-gp41 Env IgG3 and anti-p66 reverse transcriptase IgG3 antibodies, in addition to anti-Gag IgG3 antibodies, each consistently and measurably declined after acute infection, in contrast to the persistent antigen-specific IgG1 responses.
The detailed measurements of the decline in multiple HIV-specific IgG3 responses simultaneous with persistent IgG1 responses during acute and recent HIV-1 infection could serve as markers for detection of incident HIV infection.
HIV-1 acute infection; HIV-1 incidence; immunoglobulin G subclass
CD8+ T-lymphocytes from HIV-1 infected individuals express unidentified factors that suppress viral replication by inhibiting HIV-1 gene expression. We examined the role of epigenetics in modulating the HIV-1 suppressive factors expressed by primary CD8+ T cells from subjects naturally controlling virus replication. HIV-1 suppression by CD8+ T-lymphocytes was reversed up to 40% by the addition of a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor. Noncytolytic suppression was not dependent on epigenetic changes within the target cells, as HDAC1 within the target cell was dispensable, and HIV-1 LTR histone acetylation remained unchanged in the presence of CD8+ T-lymphocytes. Histone deacetylation within CD8+ T-lymphocytes was necessary for potent HIV-1 suppression. Blocking HDACs impairs the ability of CD8+ T-lymphocytes to repress HIV-1 transcription, demonstrating that expression of a portion of the suppressive factors is regulated by epigenetics. These data provide a way to focus the search for the suppressive factors and to potentially modulate their expression.
Histone deacetylases; CD8+ T-lymphocyte HIV-1 suppression; Virus controllers
Purpose of review
Major roadblocks persist in the development of vaccines that elicit potent neutralizing antibodies targeting diverse HIV-1 strains, similar to known broadly neutralizing HIV-1 human monoclonal antibodies. Alternatively, other types of anti-HIV-1 envelope antibodies that may not neutralize HIV-1 in traditional neutralization assays but have other anti-HIV-1 activities (hereafter termed HIV-1 inhibitory antibodies) can be elicited by current vaccine strategies, and numerous studies are exploring their roles in preventing HIV-1 acquisition. We review examples of strategies for eliciting potentially protective HIV-1 inhibitory antibodies.
Heterologous prime-boost strategies can yield anti-HIV immune responses; although only one (canarypox prime, Env protein boost) has been tested and shown positive results in an efficacy trial (RV144). Although the immune correlates of protection are as yet undefined, the reduced rate of acquisition without a significant effect on initial viral loads or CD4+ T cell counts, have raised the hypothesis of an RV144 vaccine-elicited transient protective B cell response.
In light of the RV144 trial, there is a critical need to define the entire functional spectrum of anti-HIV-1 antibodies, how easily each can be elicited, and how effective different types of antibody effector mechanisms can be in prevention of HIV-1 transmission.
Vaccines; B-cells; Neutralizing Antibodies; Inhibitory Antibodies; Mucosal
Background. To investigate the potential immunostimulatory effect of interleukin (IL) 2 as a human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccine adjuvant, we conducted a study of a plasmid coding for a fusion protein of IL-2 and immunoglobulin (IL-2/Ig).
Methods. This phase I trial evaluated an HIV-1 DNA vaccine with the plasmid cytokine adjuvant (IL-2/Ig) in 70 HIV-negative adults. Subjects received placebo (group C), adjuvant alone (group A), vaccine alone (group D), increasing doses of adjuvant concurrent with vaccine (groups T1–T4), or adjuvant given 2 days after vaccine (group T5).
Results. No significant differences in adverse events were observed between treatment groups. Cellular immune responses to envelope protein EnvA peptides were detected by interferon (IFN) γ and IL-2 enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assays in 50% and 40% of subjects, respectively, in T4, and in 100% and 80% in T5. The median responses for groups T4 and T5, respectively, were 90 and 193 spot-forming cells (SFCs)/106 peripheral blood mononuclear cells (P = .004; T4 vs T5) for the IL-2 ELISPOT assay and 103 and 380 SFCs/106 PBMCs (P = .003; T4 vs T5) for the IFN-γ ELISPOT assay. A trend to more durable cellular immune responses in T5 was observed at 1 year (T5 vs T4/D; P = .07). Higher anti-Env antibody responses were detected with T5 than with T4.
Conclusions. Plasmid IL-2/Ig significantly increased immune responses when administered 2 days after the DNA vaccine, compared with simultaneous administration. These observations have important implications for the development of cytokine augmentation strategies.
Clinical Trials Registration. NCT00069030.
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.
Plasma from a small subset of subjects chronically infected with HIV-1 shows remarkable magnitude and breadth of neutralizing activity. From one of these individuals (CH0219), we isolated two broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs), CH01 and VRC-CH31, from two clonal lineages of memory B cells with distinct specificities (variable loop 1 and 2 [V1V2] conformational specificity and CD4-binding site specificity, respectively) that recapitulate 95% of CH0219 serum neutralization breadth. These data provide proof of concept for an HIV-1 vaccine that aims to elicit bnAbs of multiple specificities.
Many candidate HIV vaccines are designed to primarily elicit T-cell responses. Although repeated immunization with the same vaccine boosts antibody responses, the benefit for T-cell responses is ill-defined. We compared two immunization regimens that include the same recombinant adenoviral serotype 5 (rAd5) boost. Repeated homologous rAd5 immunization fails to increase T-cell responses, but increases gp140 antibody responses ten-fold. DNA prime, as compared with rAd5 prime, directs long-term memory CD8+ T cells toward a terminally differentiated effector memory phenotype with cytotoxic potential. Based on the kinetics of activated cells measured directly ex vivo, the DNA vaccination primes for both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, despite the lack of detection of the latter until after the boost. These results suggest that heterologous prime-boost combinations have distinct immunological advantages over homologous prime-boosts, and suggest that the effect of DNA on subsequent boosting may not be easily detectable directly after the DNA vaccination.
CD4 T follicular helper (TFH) cells interact with and stimulate the generation of antigen-specific B cells. TFH cell interaction with B cells correlates with production of SIV-specific immunoglobulins. However, the fate of TFH cells and their participation in SIV-induced antibody production is not well understood. We investigated the phenotype, function, location, and molecular signature of TFH cells in rhesus macaques. Similar to their human counterparts, TFH cells in rhesus macaques represented a heterogeneous population with respect to cytokine function. In a highly differentiated subpopulation of TFH cells, characterized by CD150lo expression, production of Th1 cytokines was compromised while IL-4 production was augmented, and cells exhibited decreased survival, cycling, and trafficking capacity. TFH cells exhibited a distinct gene profile that was markedly altered by SIV infection. TFH cells were infected by SIV; yet, in some animals, these cells actually accumulated during chronic SIV infection. Generalized immune activation and increased IL-6 production helped drive TFH differentiation during SIV infection. Accumulation of TFH cells was associated with increased frequency of activated germinal center B cells and SIV-specific antibodies. Therefore, chronic SIV does not disturb the ability of TFH cells to help B cell maturation and production of SIV-specific immunoglobulins.
A small proportion of HIV-infected individuals generate a neutralizing antibody (NAb) response of exceptional magnitude and breadth. A detailed analysis of the critical epitopes targeted by broadly neutralizing antibodies should help to define optimal targets for vaccine design. HIV-1-infected subjects with potent cross-reactive serum neutralizing antibodies were identified by assaying sera from 308 subjects against a multiclade panel of 12 “tier 2” viruses (4 each of subtypes A, B, and C). Various neutralizing epitope specificities were determined for the top 9 neutralizers, including clade A-, clade B-, clade C-, and clade A/C-infected donors, by using a comprehensive set of assays. In some subjects, neutralization breadth was mediated by two or more antibody specificities. Although antibodies to the gp41 membrane-proximal external region (MPER) were identified in some subjects, the subjects with the greatest neutralization breadth targeted gp120 epitopes, including the CD4 binding site, a glycan-containing quaternary epitope formed by the V2 and V3 loops, or an outer domain epitope containing a glycan at residue N332. The broadly reactive HIV-1 neutralization observed in some subjects is mediated by antibodies targeting several conserved regions on the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein.
Genetic factors, as well as antigenic stimuli, can influence antibody repertoire formation. Moreover, the affinity of antigen for unmutated naïve B cell receptors determines the threshold for activation of germinal center antibody responses. The gp41 2F5 broadly neutralizing antibody (bNAb) uses the VH2-5 gene, which has 10 distinct alleles that use either a heavy-chain complementarity-determining region 2 (HCDR2) aspartic acid (DH54) or an HCDR2 asparagine (NH54) residue. The 2F5 HCDR2 DH54 residue has been shown to form a salt bridge with gp41 665K; the VH2-5 germ line allele variant containing NH54 cannot do so and thus should bind less avidly to gp41. Thus, the induction of 2F5 bNAb is dependent on both genetic and structural factors that could affect antigen affinity of unmutated naïve B cell receptors. Here, we studied allelic variants of the VH2-5 inferred germ line forms of the HIV-1 gp41 bNAb 2F5 for their antigen binding affinities to gp41 linear peptide and conformational protein antigens. Both VH2-5 2F5 inferred germ line variants bound to gp41 peptides and protein, including the fusion intermediate protein mimic, although more weakly than the mature 2F5 antibody. As predicted, the affinity of the NH54 variant for fusion-intermediate conformation was an order of magnitude lower than that of the DH54 VH2-5 germ line antibody, demonstrating that allelic variants of 2F5 germ line antibodies differentially bind to gp41. Thus, these data demonstrate a genetically determined trait that may affect host responses to HIV-1 envelope epitopes recognized by broadly neutralizing antibodies and has implications for unmutated ancestor-based immunogen design.
Background. A key missing element in the development of a successful human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine is an immunogen that can generate broadly cross-neutralizing antibodies against primary isolates of the virus.
Methods. This phase 1 clinical trial employed a DNA prime and subunit envelope protein boost in an attempt to generate cellular and humoral immune responses that might be desirable in a protective HIV vaccine. Priming was performed via intramuscular injection with gag and env DNA adsorbed to polylactide coglycolide microspheres, followed by boosting with a recombinant trimeric envelope (Env) glycoprotein delivered in MF59 adjuvant.
Results. The DNA prime and protein boost were generally safe and well-tolerated. Env-specific CD4+ cellular responses were generated that were predominantly detected after Env protein boosting. Neutralizing antibody responses against the homologous SF162 viral isolate were remarkably strong and were present in the majority of vaccine recipients, including a strong response against CD4-induced epitopes on gp120. Despite the promising potency of this vaccine approach, neutralization breadth against heterologous tier 2 strains of HIV-1 was minimal.
Conclusions. Potent neutralization against neutralization-sensitive strains of HIV is achievable in humans through a DNA prime, recombinant oligomeric Env protein boost regimen. Eliciting substantial breadth of neutralization remains an elusive goal.
Clinical Trials Registration. NCT00073216.
Background. Recombinant DNA and modified vaccinia virus Ankara (rMVA) vaccines represent a promising approach to an HIV/AIDS vaccine. This Phase 1 clinical trial compared the safety and immunogenicity of a rMVA vaccine administered with and without DNA vaccine priming
Methods. GeoVax pGA2/JS7 DNA (D) and MVA/HIV62 (M) vaccines encode noninfectious virus-like particles. Intramuscular needle injections were used to deliver placebo, 2 doses of DNA followed by 2 doses of rMVA (DDMM), one dose of DNA followed by 2 doses of rMVA (DMM), or 3 doses of rMVA (MMM) to HIV-seronegative participants.
Results. Local and systemic symptoms were mild or moderate. Immune response rates for CD4 + and CD8 + T cells were highest in the DDMM group and lowest in the MMM group (77% vs 43% CD4 + and 42% vs 17% CD8 +). In contrast, response rates for Env binding and neutralizing Ab were highest in the MMM group. The DMM group had intermediate response rates. A 1/10th-dose DDMM regimen induced similar T cell but reduced Ab response rates compared with the full-dose DDMM.
Conclusions. MVA62 was well tolerated and elicited different patterns of T cell and Ab responses when administered alone or in combination with the JS7 DNA vaccine.
The B cell arm of the immune response becomes activated soon after HIV-1 transmission, yet the initial antibody response does not control HIV-1 replication, and it takes months for neutralizing antibodies to develop against the autologous virus. Antibodies that can be broadly protective are made only in a minority of subjects and take years to develop—too late to affect the course of disease. New studies of the earliest stages of HIV-1 infection, new techniques to probe the human B cell repertoire, the modest degree of efficacy in a vaccine trial, and new studies of human monoclonal antibodies that represent the types of immune responses an HIV-1 vaccine should induce are collectively illuminating paths that a successful HIV-1 vaccine might take.
Purpose of review
This review discusses select recent data that suggest that indeed it is possible to make a clinically useful preventive vaccine for HIV-1 and outlines some of the remaining obstacles that stand in the way of success.
Passive protection studies, with broad neutralizing antibodies for mucosal simian-HIV challenges, in nonhuman primates have suggested that lower doses of neutralizing antibodies than previously thought may be effective in preventing HIV-1 infection. The use of recombinant antibody technology coupled with the ability to culture single memory B cells has yielded new broad neutralizing antibodies and new targets for vaccine design. The success of the RV144 Thai HIV-1 efficacy trials with a replication-defective recombinant canarypox vector (ALVAC)/gp120 prime, clade B/E recombinant gp120 protein boost showing 31% efficacy has given hope that indeed a protective HIV-1 vaccine can be made.
Recent data in the last year have provided new hope that a clinically useful preventive HIV-1 vaccine can potentially be made. The path forward will require development of improved immunogens, understanding the correlates of protection to HIV-1, and development of immunogens to induce antibodies that can prevent the initial stages of HIV-1 infection at mucosal sites, in order to improve on the RV144 trial results.
antibodies; trials; vaccine