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1.  Vaccination with gag, vif, and nef Gene Fragments Affords Partial Control of Viral Replication after Mucosal Challenge with SIVmac239 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(13):7493-7516.
ABSTRACT
Broadly targeted cellular immune responses are thought to be important for controlling replication of human and simian immunodeficiency viruses (HIV and SIV). However, eliciting such responses by vaccination is complicated by immunodominance, the preferential targeting of only a few of the many possible epitopes of a given antigen. This phenomenon may be due to the coexpression of dominant and subdominant epitopes by the same antigen-presenting cell and may be overcome by distributing these sequences among several different vaccine constructs. Accordingly, we tested whether vaccinating rhesus macaques with “minigenes” encoding fragments of Gag, Vif, and Nef resulted in broadened cellular responses capable of controlling SIV replication. We delivered these minigenes through combinations of recombinant Mycobacterium bovis BCG (rBCG), electroporated recombinant DNA (rDNA) along with an interleukin-12 (IL-12)-expressing plasmid (EP rDNA plus pIL-12), yellow fever vaccine virus 17D (rYF17D), and recombinant adenovirus serotype 5 (rAd5). Although priming with EP rDNA plus pIL-12 increased the breadth of vaccine-induced T-cell responses, this effect was likely due to the improved antigen delivery afforded by electroporation rather than modulation of immunodominance. Indeed, Mamu-A*01+ vaccinees mounted CD8+ T cells directed against only one subdominant epitope, regardless of the vaccination regimen. After challenge with SIVmac239, vaccine efficacy was limited to a modest reduction in set point in some of the groups and did not correlate with standard T-cell measurements. These findings suggest that broad T-cell responses elicited by conventional vectors may not be sufficient to substantially contain AIDS virus replication.
IMPORTANCE Immunodominance poses a major obstacle to the generation of broadly targeted, HIV-specific cellular responses by vaccination. Here we attempted to circumvent this phenomenon and thereby broaden the repertoire of SIV-specific cellular responses by vaccinating rhesus macaques with minigenes encoding fragments of Gag, Vif, and Nef. In contrast to previous mouse studies, this strategy appeared to minimally affect monkey CD8+ T-cell immundominance hierarchies, as seen by the detection of only one subdominant epitope in Mamu-A*01+ vaccinees. This finding underscores the difficulty of inducing subdominant CD8+ T cells by vaccination and demonstrates that strategies other than gene fragmentation may be required to significantly alter immunodominance in primates. Although some of the regimens tested here were extremely immunogenic, vaccine efficacy was limited to a modest reduction in set point viremia after challenge with SIVmac239. No correlates of protection were identified. These results reinforce the notion that vaccine immunogenicity does not predict control of AIDS virus replication.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00601-14
PMCID: PMC4054456  PMID: 24741098
2.  Molecularly Tagged Simian Immunodeficiency Virus SIVmac239 Synthetic Swarm for Tracking Independent Infection Events 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(14):8077-8090.
ABSTRACT
Following mucosal human immunodeficiency virus type 1 transmission, systemic infection is established by one or only a few viral variants. Modeling single-variant, mucosal transmission in nonhuman primates using limiting-dose inoculations with a diverse simian immunodeficiency virus isolate stock may increase variability between animals since individual variants within the stock may have substantial functional differences. To decrease variability between animals while retaining the ability to enumerate transmitted/founder variants by sequence analysis, we modified the SIVmac239 clone to generate 10 unique clones that differ by two or three synonymous mutations (molecular tags). Transfection- and infection-derived virus stocks containing all 10 variants showed limited phenotypic differences in 9 of the 10 clones. Twenty-nine rhesus macaques were challenged intrarectally or intravenously with either a single dose or repeated, limiting doses of either stock. The proportion of each variant within each inoculum and in plasma from infected animals was determined by using a novel real-time single-genome amplification assay. Each animal was infected with one to five variants, the number correlating with the dose. Longitudinal sequence analysis revealed that the molecular tags are highly stable with no reversion to the parental sequence detected in >2 years of follow-up. Overall, the viral stocks are functional and mucosally transmissible and the number of variants is conveniently discernible by sequence analysis of a small amplicon. This approach should be useful for tracking individual infection events in preclinical vaccine evaluations, long-term viral reservoir establishment/clearance research, and transmission/early-event studies.
IMPORTANCE Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 transmission is established by one or only a few viral variants. Modeling of limited variant transmission in nonhuman primates with a diverse simian immunodeficiency virus isolate stock may increase the variability between animals because of functional differences in the individual variants within the stock. To decrease such variability while retaining the ability to distinguish and enumerate transmitted/founder variants by sequence analysis, we generated a viral stock with 10 sequence-identifiable but otherwise genetically identical variants. This virus was characterized in vitro and in vivo and shown to allow discrimination of distinct transmission events. This approach provides a novel nonhuman primate challenge system for the study of viral transmission, evaluation of vaccines and other prevention approaches, and characterization of viral reservoirs and strategies to target them.
doi:10.1128/JVI.01026-14
PMCID: PMC4097795  PMID: 24807714
3.  The Immunologic Effects of Mesalamine in Treated HIV-Infected Individuals with Incomplete CD4+ T Cell Recovery: A Randomized Crossover Trial 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e116306.
The anti-inflammatory agent, mesalamine (5-aminosalicylic acid) has been shown to decrease mucosal inflammation in ulcerative colitis. The effect of mesalamine in HIV-infected individuals, who exhibit abnormal mucosal immune activation and microbial translocation (MT), has not been established in a placebo-controlled trial. We randomized 33 HIV-infected subjects with CD4 counts <350 cells/mm3 and plasma HIV RNA levels <40 copies/ml on antiretroviral therapy (ART) to add mesalamine vs. placebo to their existing regimen for 12 weeks followed by a 12 week crossover to the other arm. Compared to placebo-treated subjects, mesalamine-treated subjects did not experience any significant change in the percent CD38+HLA-DR+ peripheral blood CD4+ and CD8+ T cells at week 12 (P  = 0.38 and P  = 0.63, respectively), or in the CD4+ T cell count at week 12 (P  = 0.83). The percent CD38+HLA-DR+ CD4+ and CD8+ T cells also did not change significantly in rectal tissue (P  = 0.86, P  = 0.84, respectively). During the period of mesalamine administration, plasma sCD14, IL-6, D-dimer, and kynurenine to tryptophan ratio were not changed significantly at week 12 and were similarly unchanged at week 24. This study suggests that, at least under the conditions studied, the persistent immune activation associated with HIV infection is not impacted by the anti-inflammatory effects of mesalamine.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01090102
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0116306
PMCID: PMC4283685  PMID: 25545673
4.  HSV-2-Driven Increase in the Expression of α4β7 Correlates with Increased Susceptibility to Vaginal SHIVSF162P3 Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(12):e1004567.
The availability of highly susceptible HIV target cells that can rapidly reach the mucosal lymphoid tissues may increase the chances of an otherwise rare transmission event to occur. Expression of α4β7 is required for trafficking of immune cells to gut inductive sites where HIV can expand and it is expressed at high level on cells particularly susceptible to HIV infection. We hypothesized that HSV-2 modulates the expression of α4β7 and other homing receptors in the vaginal tissue and that this correlates with the increased risk of HIV acquisition in HSV-2 positive individuals. To test this hypothesis we used an in vivo rhesus macaque (RM) model of HSV-2 vaginal infection and a new ex vivo model of macaque vaginal explants. In vivo we found that HSV-2 latently infected RMs appeared to be more susceptible to vaginal SHIVSF162P3 infection, had higher frequency of α4β7high CD4+ T cells in the vaginal tissue and higher expression of α4β7 and CD11c on vaginal DCs. Similarly, ex vivo HSV-2 infection increased the susceptibility of the vaginal tissue to SHIVSF162P3. HSV-2 infection increased the frequencies of α4β7high CD4+ T cells and this directly correlated with HSV-2 replication. A higher amount of inflammatory cytokines in vaginal fluids of the HSV-2 infected animals was similar to those found in the supernatants of the infected explants. Remarkably, the HSV-2-driven increase in the frequency of α4β7high CD4+ T cells directly correlated with SHIV replication in the HSV-2 infected tissues. Our results suggest that the HSV-2-driven increase in availability of CD4+ T cells and DCs that express high levels of α4β7 is associated with the increase in susceptibility to SHIV due to HSV-2. This may persists in absence of HSV-2 shedding. Hence, higher availability of α4β7 positive HIV target cells in the vaginal tissue may constitute a risk factor for HIV transmission.
Author Summary
Understanding the factors that correlate with an increased risk of acquiring HIV infection is key to identify new means of preventing HIV transmission. HSV-2 infection increases the risk of HIV transmission even in absence of visible lesions and inflammation. In order to explore HSV-2− associated factors that could explain this phenomenon, we used a model of asymptomatic HSV-2 infection in macaques and ex vivo cultures of biopsied vaginal tissue. We determined that HSV-2 infection is associated with an increase in subsets of immune cells that express high levels of α4β7, a molecule needed by the cells to reach the gut and the gut lymphoid tissues. The gut is an important site for HIV infection and pathogenesis and CD4+ T cells expressing high levels of α4β7 (α4β7high) are highly susceptible to the virus. We determined that the HSV-2-driven increase in these cells correlates with an increased susceptibility of the vaginal mucosa to SIV infection. Thus, our results suggest that an increased availability of α4β7high cells at the mucosal site of HIV exposure may constitute a risk factor for HIV acquisition in HSV-2 positive and, possibly, negative individuals.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004567
PMCID: PMC4270786  PMID: 25521298
5.  The frequency of α4β7high memory CD4+ T cells correlates with susceptibility to rectal SIV infection 
Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes (1999)  2013;64(4):10.1097/QAI.0b013e31829f6e1a.
Background
Integrin α4β7 (α4β7) mediates the homing of CD4+ T cells to gut-associated lymphoid tissues (GALT), which constitute a highly favorable environment for HIV expansion and dissemination. HIV and SIV envelope proteins bind to and signal through α4β7 and during acute infection SIV preferentially infects α4β7high CD4+ T cells. We postulated that the availability of these cells at the time of challenge could influence mucosal SIV transmission and acute viral load (VL).
Methods
We challenged 17 rhesus macaques with 3000 TCID50 of SIVmac239 rectally and followed the subsets of α4β7+ T and dendritic cells (DCs) by flow cytometry in blood and tissues, before and after challenge.
Results
We found that the frequency of memory CD4+ T cells that expressed high levels of α4β7 (α4β7high memory CD4+ T cells) in blood before challenge correlated strongly with susceptibility to infection and acute VL. Notably, not only at the time of challenge, but also their frequency 3 weeks before challenge correlated with infection. This association extended to the rectal tissue as we observed a strong direct correlation between the frequency of α4β7high memory CD4+ T cells in blood and rectum before and after challenge. The frequency of α4β7+ myeloid DCs and α4β7high CD80+ DCs also correlated with infection and acute VL, while blood CCR5+ and CD69+ CD4+ T cells could not be associated with infection.
Conclusions
Our results suggest that animals with higher frequency of α4β7high CD4+ T cells in circulation and in rectal tissue could be more susceptible to SIV rectal transmission.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e31829f6e1a
PMCID: PMC3815485  PMID: 23797688
HIV; SIV; mucosa transmission; integrin alpha-4 beta-7; susceptibility; gut
6.  Effect of Combination Antiretroviral Therapy on Chinese Rhesus Macaques of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Infection 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2013;29(11):1465-1474.
Abstract
Definitive treatment of HIV infection remains a critical but elusive goal, with persistence of residual virus even in the face of prolonged administration of suppressive combination antiretroviral treatment (cART) providing a source for recrudescent infection if treatment is stopped. Characterization of the residual virus and devising strategies to target it for eradication are key goals in HIV treatment research. Indian rhesus macaques (In-RM) infected with SIVmac have been widely used in such research. However, it has proven challenging to achieve and sustain clinically relevant levels of suppression (<30 vRNA copies/ml plasma) with cART in such models. As ease of viral suppression by cART is related to pretreatment levels of viral replication, and levels of replication of SIVmac239/251 are lower in Chinese rhesus macaques (Ch-RM) than in In-RM, we evaluated cART administration to SIVmac-infected Ch-RM as a potential model for studies of residual virus and eradication strategies. Four SIVmac239-infected Ch-RM received cART including reverse transcriptase inhibitors PMPA/FTC and integrase inhibitor L-870812 daily for 8 weeks. Plasma viral loads were promptly reduced to <30 copies/ml upon initiation of cART. Cell-associated SIV DNA levels in lymphocytes from the gut were also significantly reduced. Jejunal and colonic CCR5+CD4+ mucosal memory T cells increased significantly; restoration of these cells was associated with reductions in immune activation. In conclusion, cART effectively suppressed viral replication to <30 vRNA copies/ml in SIVmac239-infected Ch-RM, reducing immune activation and restoring mucosal immune cell populations. SIVmac239-infected Ch-RM may be a useful model for studying responses to cART and persistent tissue reservoirs and evaluating candidate eradication strategies to cure HIV infection.
doi:10.1089/aid.2012.0378
PMCID: PMC3809389  PMID: 23387294
7.  Short Communication: A Repeated Simian Human Immunodeficiency Virus Reverse Transcriptase/Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Cochallenge Macaque Model for the Evaluation of Microbicides 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2014;30(11):1117-1124.
Abstract
Epidemiological studies suggest that prevalent herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection increases the risk of HIV acquisition, underscoring the need to develop coinfection models to evaluate promising prevention strategies. We previously established a single high-dose vaginal coinfection model of simian human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV)/HSV-2 in Depo-Provera (DP)-treated macaques. However, this model does not appropriately mimic women's exposure. Repeated limiting dose SHIV challenge models are now used routinely to test prevention strategies, yet, at present, there are no reports of a repeated limiting dose cochallenge model in which to evaluate products targeting HIV and HSV-2. Herein, we show that 20 weekly cochallenges with 2–50 TCID50 simian human immunodeficiency virus reverse transcriptase (SHIV-RT) and 107 pfu HSV-2 results in infection with both viruses (4/6 SHIV-RT, 6/6 HSV-2). The frequency and level of vaginal HSV-2 shedding were significantly greater in the repeated exposure model compared to the single high-dose model (p<0.0001). We used this new model to test the Council's on-demand microbicide gel, MZC, which is active against SHIV-RT in DP-treated macaques and HSV-2 and human papillomavirus (HPV) in mice. While MZC reduced SHIV and HSV-2 infections in our repeated limiting dose model when cochallenging 8 h after each gel application, a barrier effect of carrageenan (CG) that was not seen in DP-treated animals precluded evaluation of the significance of the antiviral activity of MZC. Both MZC and CG significantly (p<0.0001) reduced the frequency and level of vaginal HSV-2 shedding compared to no gel treatment. This validates the use of this repeated limiting dose cochallenge model for testing products targeting HIV and HSV-2.
doi:10.1089/aid.2014.0207
PMCID: PMC4208605  PMID: 25354024
8.  A MIV-150/Zinc Acetate Gel Inhibits SHIV-RT Infection in Macaque Vaginal Explants 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e108109.
To extend our observations that single or repeated application of a gel containing the NNRTI MIV-150 (M) and zinc acetate dihydrate (ZA) in carrageenan (CG) (MZC) inhibits vaginal transmission of simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV)-RT in macaques, we evaluated safety and anti-SHIV-RT activity of MZC and related gel formulations ex vivo in macaque mucosal explants. In addition, safety was further evaluated in human ectocervical explants. The gels did not induce mucosal toxicity. A single ex vivo exposure to diluted MZC (1∶30, 1∶100) and MC (1∶30, the only dilution tested), but not to ZC gel, up to 4 days prior to viral challenge, significantly inhibited SHIV-RT infection in macaque vaginal mucosa. MZC's activity was not affected by seminal plasma. The antiviral activity of unformulated MIV-150 was not enhanced in the presence of ZA, suggesting that the antiviral activity of MZC was mediated predominantly by MIV-150. In vivo administration of MZC and CG significantly inhibited ex vivo SHIV-RT infection (51–62% inhibition relative to baselines) of vaginal (but not cervical) mucosa collected 24 h post last gel exposure, indicating barrier effect of CG. Although the inhibitory effect of MZC (65–74%) did not significantly differ from CG (32–45%), it was within the range of protection (∼75%) against vaginal SHIV-RT challenge 24 h after gel dosing. Overall, the data suggest that evaluation of candidate microbicides in macaque explants can inform macaque efficacy and clinical studies design. The data support advancing MZC gel for clinical evaluation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0108109
PMCID: PMC4178065  PMID: 25259616
9.  ANTIBODY MEDIATED IMMUNOTHERAPY OF MACAQUES CHRONICALLY INFECTED WITH SHIV SUPPRESSES VIREMIA 
Nature  2013;503(7475):277-280.
Neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) can confer immunity to primate lentiviruses by blocking infection in macaque models of AIDS1–4. However, earlier studies of anti-HIV 1 NAbs administered to infected individuals or humanized mice, reported poor control of virus replication and the rapid emergence of resistant variants 5–7. A new generation of anti-HIV 1 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), possessing extraordinary potency and breadth of neutralizing activity, has recently been isolated from infected individuals 8. These NAbs target different regions of the HIV 1 envelope glycoprotein including the CD4 binding site (bs), glycans located in the V1/V2, V3, and V4 regions, and the membrane proximal external region of gp419–14. We have examined two of the new antibodies, directed to the CD4 bs and the V3 region (3BNC117 and 10-1074 respectively) for their ability to block infection and suppress viremia in macaques infected with the R5 tropic SHIVAD8 virus, which emulates many of the pathogenic and immunogenic properties of HIV 1 during infections of rhesus macaques15,16. Either antibody alone can potently block virus acquisition. When administered individually to recently infected monkeys, the 10-1074 antibody caused a rapid decline in virus loads to undetectable levels for 4 to 7 days, followed by virus rebound during which neutralization resistant variants became detectable. When administered together, a single treatment rapidly suppressed plasma viremia for 3 to 5 weeks in some long-term chronically SHIV infected animals with low CD4+ T cell levels. A second cycle of anti-HIV 1 mAb therapy, administered to two previously treated animals, successfully controlled virus rebound. These results suggest that immunotherapy or a combination of immunotherapy plus conventional antiretroviral drugs might be useful as a treatment for chronically HIV-1 infected individuals experiencing immune dysfunction.
doi:10.1038/nature12746
PMCID: PMC4133787  PMID: 24172896
10.  Effects of Treatment with Suppressive Combination Antiretroviral Drug Therapy and the Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor Suberoylanilide Hydroxamic Acid; (SAHA) on SIV-Infected Chinese Rhesus Macaques 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102795.
Objectives
Viral reservoirs–persistent residual virus despite combination antiretroviral therapy (cART)–remain an obstacle to cure of HIV-1 infection. Difficulty studying reservoirs in patients underscores the need for animal models that mimics HIV infected humans on cART. We studied SIV-infected Chinese-origin rhesus macaques (Ch-RM) treated with intensive combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) and 3 weeks of treatment with the histone deacetyalse inhibitor, suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA).
Methods
SIVmac251 infected Ch-RM received reverse transcriptase inhibitors PMPA and FTC and integrase inhibitor L-870812 beginning 7 weeks post infection. Integrase inhibitor L-900564 and boosted protease inhibitor treatment with Darunavir and Ritonavir were added later. cART was continued for 45 weeks, with daily SAHA administered for the last 3 weeks, followed by euthanasia/necropsy. Plasma viral RNA and cell/tissue-associated SIV gag RNA and DNA were quantified by qRT-PCR/qPCR, with flow cytometry monitoring changes in immune cell populations.
Results
Upon cART initiation, plasma viremia declined, remaining <30 SIV RNA copy Eq/ml during cART, with occasional blips. Decreased viral replication was associated with decreased immune activation and partial restoration of intestinal CD4+ T cells. SAHA was well tolerated but did not result in demonstrable treatment-associated changes in plasma or cell associated viral parameters.
Conclusions
The ability to achieve and sustain virological suppression makes cART-suppressed, SIV-infected Ch-RM a potentially useful model to evaluate interventions targeting residual virus. However, despite intensive cART over one year, persistent viral DNA and RNA remained in tissues of all three animals. While well tolerated, three weeks of SAHA treatment did not demonstrably impact viral RNA levels in plasma or tissues; perhaps reflecting dosing, sampling and assay limitations.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102795
PMCID: PMC4102539  PMID: 25033210
11.  Tetherin Upregulation in Simian Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Macaques 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(24):13917-13921.
Here we show that simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection of rhesus macaques results in rapid upregulation of tetherin (BST-2 or CD317) on peripheral blood lymphocytes, including the CD4+ CCR5+ T cell targets of virus infection, with a peak of induction that coincides with peak alpha interferon (IFN-α) levels in plasma, and that tetherin remains above baseline levels throughout chronic infection. These observations are consistent with a role for tetherin in innate immunity to immunodeficiency virus infection.
doi:10.1128/JVI.01757-13
PMCID: PMC3838227  PMID: 24109219
12.  Absence of Detectable HIV-1 Viremia after Treatment Cessation in an Infant 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;369(19):1828-1835.
SUMMARY
An infant born to a woman with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection began receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) 30 hours after birth owing to high-risk exposure. ART was continued when detection of HIV-1 DNA and RNA on repeat testing met the standard diagnostic criteria for infection. After therapy was discontinued (when the child was 18 months of age), levels of plasma HIV-1 RNA, proviral DNA in peripheral-blood mononuclear cells, and HIV-1 antibodies, as assessed by means of clinical assays, remained undetectable in the child through 30 months of age. This case suggests that very early ART in infants may alter the establishment and long-term persistence of HIV-1 infection.
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1302976
PMCID: PMC3954754  PMID: 24152233
13.  A Potent Combination Microbicide that Targets SHIV-RT, HSV-2 and HPV 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94547.
Prevalent infection with human herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) or human papillomavirus (HPV) is associated with increased human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) acquisition. Microbicides that target HIV as well as these sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may more effectively limit HIV incidence. Previously, we showed that a microbicide gel (MZC) containing MIV-150, zinc acetate (ZA) and carrageenan (CG) protected macaques against simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV-RT) infection and that a ZC gel protected mice against HSV-2 infection. Here we evaluated a modified MZC gel (containing different buffers, co-solvents, and preservatives suitable for clinical testing) against both vaginal and rectal challenge of animals with SHIV-RT, HSV-2 or HPV. MZC was stable and safe in vitro (cell viability and monolayer integrity) and in vivo (histology). MZC protected macaques against vaginal (p<0.0001) SHIV-RT infection when applied up to 8 hours (h) prior to challenge. When used close to the time of challenge, MZC prevented rectal SHIV-RT infection of macaques similar to the CG control. MZC significantly reduced vaginal (p<0.0001) and anorectal (p = 0.0187) infection of mice when 106 pfu HSV-2 were applied immediately after vaginal challenge and also when 5×103 pfu were applied between 8 h before and 4 h after vaginal challenge (p<0.0248). Protection of mice against 8×106 HPV16 pseudovirus particles (HPV16 PsV) was significant for MZC applied up to 24 h before and 2 h after vaginal challenge (p<0.0001) and also if applied 2 h before or after anorectal challenge (p<0.0006). MZC provides a durable window of protection against vaginal infection with these three viruses and, against HSV-2 and HPV making it an excellent candidate microbicide for clinical use.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094547
PMCID: PMC3989196  PMID: 24740100
14.  POLY IC IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE TOLL-LIKE RECEPTOR ADJUVANT FOR SIV GAG PROTEIN INDUCED T CELL RESPONSES IN NON-HUMAN PRIMATES 
Prime-boost immunization with heterologous vaccines elicits potent cellular immunity. Here, we assessed the influence of various TLR ligands on SIV Gag-specific T cell immunity and protection following prime-boost immunization. Rhesus macaques (RM) were primed with SIV Gag protein emulsified in montanide ISA51 with or without TLR3 (polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (Poly IC)), TLR4 (monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL)), TLR7/8, TLR9 (CpG) or TLR3 (Poly IC) combined with TLR7/8 ligands, then boosted with replication defective adenovirus 5 expressing SIV Gag (rAd5-Gag). After priming, RM that received SIV Gag protein plus Poly IC developed significantly higher frequencies of SIV Gag-specific CD4+ Th1 responses in blood and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid lymphocytes (BAL) compared to all other adjuvants, and low-level SIV Gag-specific CD8+ T cell responses. After the rAd5-Gag boost, the magnitude and breadth of SIV Gag-specific CD8+ T cell responses were significantly increased in RM primed with SIV Gag protein plus Poly IC, with or without the TLR7/8 ligand, or CpG. However, the anamnestic, SIV Gag-specific CD8+ T cell response to SIVmac251 challenge was not significantly enhanced by SIV Gag protein priming with any of the adjuvants. In contrast, the anamnestic SIV Gag-specific CD4+ T cell response in BAL was enhanced by SIV Gag protein priming with Poly IC or CpG, which correlated with partial control of early viral replication after SIVmac251 challenge. These results demonstrate that prime-boost vaccination with SIV Gag protein/Poly IC improves magnitude, breadth, and durability of CD4+ T cell immune responses, which may have a role in control of SIV viral replication.
doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1202958
PMCID: PMC3622154  PMID: 23509365
15.  Immune clearance of highly pathogenic SIV infection 
Nature  2013;502(7469):10.1038/nature12519.
Established infections with the human and simian immunodeficiency viruses (HIV, SIV) are thought to be permanent with even the most effective immune responses and anti-retroviral therapies (ART) only able to control, but not clear, these infections1–4. Whether the residual virus that maintains these infections is vulnerable to clearance is a question of central importance to the future management of millions of HIV-infected individuals. We recently reported that ~50% of rhesus macaques (RM) vaccinated with SIV protein-expressing Rhesus Cytomegalovirus (RhCMV/SIV) vectors manifest durable, aviremic control of infection with highly pathogenic SIVmac2395. Here, we demonstrate that regardless of route of challenge, RhCMV/SIV vector-elicited immune responses control SIVmac239 after demonstrable lymphatic and hematogenous viral dissemination, and that replication-competent SIV persists in multiple sites for weeks to months. However, over time, protected RM lost signs of SIV infection, showing a consistent lack of measurable plasma or tissue-associated virus using ultrasensitive assays, and loss of T cell reactivity to SIV determinants not in the vaccine. Extensive ultrasensitive RT-PCR and PCR analysis of tissues from RhCMV/SIV vector-protected RM necropsied 69–172 weeks after challenge did not detect SIV RNA or DNA over background, and replication-competent SIV was not detected in these RM by extensive co-culture analysis of tissues or by adoptive transfer of 60 million hematolymphoid cells to naïve RM. These data provide compelling evidence for progressive clearance of a pathogenic lentiviral infection, and suggest that some lentiviral reservoirs may be susceptible to the continuous effector memory T cell-mediated immune surveillance elicited and maintained by CMV vectors.
doi:10.1038/nature12519
PMCID: PMC3849456  PMID: 24025770
16.  Reduced Inflammation and Lymphoid Tissue Immunopathology in Rhesus Macaques Receiving Anti–Tumor Necrosis Factor Treatment During Primary Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Infection 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;207(6):880-892.
Background. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infections induce robust, generalized inflammatory responses that begin during acute infection and lead to pathological systemic immune activation, fibrotic damage of lymphoid tissues, and CD4+ T-cell loss, pathogenic processes that contribute to disease progression.
Methods. To better understand the contribution of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a key regulator of acute inflammation, to lentiviral pathogenesis, rhesus macaques newly infected with SIVmac239 were treated for 12 weeks in a pilot study with adalimumab (Humira), a human anti-TNF monoclonal antibody.
Results. Adalimumab did not affect plasma SIV RNA levels or measures of T-cell immune activation (CD38 or Ki67) in peripheral blood or lymph node T cells. However, compared with untreated rhesus macaques, adalimumab-treated rhesus macaques showed attenuated expression of proinflammatory genes, decreased infiltration of polymorphonuclear cells into the T-cell zone of lymphoid tissues, and weaker antiinflammatory regulatory responses to SIV infection (ie, fewer presumed alternatively activated [ie, CD163+] macrophages, interleukin 10–producing cells, and transforming growth factor β–producing cells), along with reduced lymphoid tissue fibrosis and better preservation of CD4+ T cells.
Conclusions. While HIV/SIV replication drives pathogenesis, these data emphasize the contribution of the inflammatory response to lentiviral infection to overall pathogenesis, and they suggest that early modulation of the inflammatory response may help attenuate disease progression.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jis643
PMCID: PMC3571439  PMID: 23087435
SIV; rhesus macaque; Sooty mangabey; lymph node; inflammation; adalimumab; TNF; macrophage; fibrosis; collagen; TGFb
17.  Exposure to MIV-150 from a High-Dose Intravaginal Ring Results in Limited Emergence of Drug Resistance Mutations in SHIV-RT Infected Rhesus Macaques 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89300.
When microbicides used for HIV prevention contain antiretroviral drugs, there is concern for the potential emergence of drug-resistant HIV following use in infected individuals who are either unaware of their HIV infection status or who are aware but still choose to use the microbicide. Resistant virus could ultimately impact their responsiveness to treatment and/or result in subsequent transmission of drug-resistant virus. We tested whether drug resistance mutations (DRMs) would emerge in macaques infected with simian immunodeficiency virus expressing HIV reverse transcriptase (SHIV-RT) after sustained exposure to the potent non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) MIV-150 delivered via an intravaginal ring (IVR). We first treated 4 SHIV-RT-infected animals with daily intramuscular injections of MIV-150 over two 21 day (d) intervals separated by a 7 d drug hiatus. In all 4 animals, NNRTI DRMs (single and combinations) were detected within 14 d and expanded in proportion and diversity with time. Knowing that we could detect in vivo emergence of NNRTI DRMs in response to MIV-150, we then tested whether a high-dose MIV-150 IVR (loaded with >10 times the amount being used in a combination microbicide IVR in development) would select for resistance in 6 infected animals, modeling use of this prevention method by an HIV-infected woman. We previously demonstrated that this MIV-150 IVR provides significant protection against vaginal SHIV-RT challenge. Wearing the MIV-150 IVR for 56 d led to only 2 single DRMs in 2 of 6 animals (430 RT sequences analyzed total, 0.46%) from plasma and lymph nodes despite MIV-150 persisting in the plasma, vaginal fluids, and genital tissues. Only wild type virus sequences were detected in the genital tissues. These findings indicate a low probability for the emergence of DRMs after topical MIV-150 exposure and support the advancement of MIV-150-containing microbicides.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089300
PMCID: PMC3937329  PMID: 24586674
18.  Preclinical Evaluation of HIV Eradication Strategies in the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Rhesus Macaque: A Pilot Study Testing Inhibition of Indoleamine 2,3-Dioxygenase 
Abstract
Even in the setting of maximally suppressive antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV persists indefinitely. Several mechanisms might contribute to this persistence, including chronic inflammation and immune dysfunction. In this study, we have explored a preclinical model for the evaluation of potential interventions that might serve to eradicate or to minimize the level of persistent virus. Given data that metabolic products of the inducible enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygeanse (IDO) might foster inflammation and viral persistence, chronically simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected, ART-treated rhesus macaques were treated with the IDO inhibitor 1-methyl tryptophan (1mT). Orally administered 1mT achieved targeted plasma levels, but did not impact tryptophan metabolism or decrease viral RNA or DNA in plasma or in intestinal tissues beyond levels achieved by ART alone. Animals treated with 1mT showed no difference in the levels of T cell activation or differentiation, or in the kinetics or magnitude of viral rebound following cessation of ART. Notwithstanding these negative results, our observations suggest that the chronically SIV-infected rhesus macaque on suppressive ART can serve as a tractable model in which to test and to prioritize the selection of other potential interventions designed to eradicate HIV in vivo. In addition, this model might be used to optimize the route and dose by which such interventions are administered and the methods by which their effects are monitored.
doi:10.1089/aid.2012.0162
PMCID: PMC3552181  PMID: 22924680
19.  A Combination Microbicide Gel Protects Macaques Against Vaginal Simian Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Reverse Transcriptase Infection, But Only Partially Reduces Herpes Simplex Virus-2 Infection After a Single High-Dose Cochallenge 
Abstract
Herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) infection increases HIV susceptibility. We previously established a rhesus macaque model of vaginal HSV-2 preexposure followed by cochallenge with HSV-2 and simian/human immunodeficiency virus-reverse transcriptase (SHIV-RT). Using this model, we showed that a gel containing the nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) MIV-150 in carrageenan (CG) reduced SHIV-RT infection. To evaluate the efficacy of new generation microbicides against both viruses, we first established dual infection after single vaginal cochallenge with SHIV-RT and HSV-2 in HSV-2-naive macaques. All animals (6/6) became HSV-2 infected, with 4/6 coinfected with SHIV-RT. In a control group cochallenged with SHIV-RT and UV-inactivated HSV-2, 2/4 became SHIV-RT infected, and none had detectable HSV-2. Low-level HSV-2-specific antibody and T cell responses were detected in some HSV-2-infected animals. To test a CG gel containing MIV-150 and zinc acetate (MZC), which provided naive animals full protection from SHIV-RT for at least 8 h, MZC (vs. CG) was applied daily for 14 days followed by cochallenge 8 h later. MZC prevented SHIV-RT infection (0/9 infected, p=0.04 vs. 3/6 in CG controls), but only reduced HSV-2 infection by 20% (6/9 infected vs. 5/6 in CG, p=0.6). In HSV-2-infected animals, none of the gel-treated animals seroconverted, and only the CG controls had measurable HSV-2-specific T cell responses. This study shows the promise of MZC to prevent immunodeficiency virus infection (even in the presence of HSV-2) and reduce HSV-2 infection after exposure to a high-dose inoculum. Additionally, it demonstrates the potential of a macaque coinfection model to evaluate broad-spectrum microbicides.
doi:10.1089/aid.2013.0165
PMCID: PMC3910668  PMID: 24117013
20.  SIV Vpx Is Essential for Macrophage Infection but Not for Development of AIDS 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84463.
Analysis of rhesus macaques infected with a vpx deletion mutant virus of simian immunodeficiency virus mac239 (SIVΔvpx) demonstrates that Vpx is essential for efficient monocyte/macrophage infection in vivo but is not necessary for development of AIDS. To compare myeloid-lineage cell infection in monkeys infected with SIVΔvpx compared to SIVmac239, we analyzed lymphoid and gastrointestinal tissues from SIVΔvpx-infected rhesus (n = 5), SIVmac239-infected rhesus with SIV encephalitis (7 SIV239E), those without encephalitis (4 SIV239noE), and other SIV mutant viruses with low viral loads (4 SIVΔnef, 2 SIVΔ3). SIV+ macrophages and the percentage of total SIV+ cells that were macrophages in spleen and lymph nodes were significantly lower in rhesus infected with SIVΔvpx (2.2%) compared to those infected with SIV239E (22.7%), SIV239noE (8.2%), and SIV mutant viruses (10.1%). In colon, SIVΔvpx monkeys had fewer SIV+ cells, no SIV+ macrophages, and lower percentage of SIV+ cells that were macrophages than the other 3 groups. Only 2 SIVΔvpx monkeys exhibited detectable virus in the colon. We demonstrate that Vpx is essential for efficient macrophage infection in vivo and that simian AIDS and death can occur in the absence of detectable macrophage infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084463
PMCID: PMC3897363  PMID: 24465411
21.  Vaccine-induced CD8+ T cells control AIDS virus replication 
Nature  2012;491(7422):10.1038/nature11443.
Developing a vaccine for HIV may be aided by a complete understanding of those rare cases where some HIV-infected individuals control replication of the virus1–3. The majority of these elite controllers (ECs) express HLA-B*57 or HLA-B*273. These alleles remain by far the most robust associations with low concentrations of plasma virus4,5, yet the mechanism of control in these individuals is not entirely clear. Here we vaccinated Indian rhesus macaques that express Mamu-B*08, an animal model for HLA-B*27-mediated elite control6, with three Mamu-B*08-restricted CD8+ T cell epitopes and demonstrate that these vaccinated animals controlled replication of the highly pathogenic SIVmac239 clonal virus. High frequencies of CD8+ T cells against these Vif and Nef epitopes in the blood, lymph nodes and colon, were associated with viral control. Moreover, the frequency of the Nef RL10-specific response correlated significantly with reduced acute phase viremia. Finally, two of the eight vaccinees lost control of viral replication in the chronic phase, concomitant with escape in all three targeted epitopes, further implicating these three CD8+ T cell responses in control of viral replication. Our findings indicate that narrowly targeted vaccine-induced virus-specific CD8+ T cell responses can control replication of the AIDS virus.
doi:10.1038/nature11443
PMCID: PMC3883109  PMID: 23023123
22.  Influence of Mismatch of Env Sequences on Vaccine Protection by Live Attenuated Simian Immunodeficiency Virus 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(13):7246-7254.
Vaccine/challenge experiments that utilize live attenuated strains of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) in monkeys may be useful for elucidating what is needed from a vaccine in order to achieve protective immunity. Derivatives of SIVmac239 and SIVmac239Δnef were constructed in which env sequences were replaced with those of the heterologous strain E543; these were then used in vaccine/challenge experiments. When challenge occurred at 22 weeks, 10 of 12 monkeys exhibited apparent sterilizing immunity despite a mismatch of Env sequences, compared to 12 of 12 monkeys with apparent sterilizing immunity when challenge virus was matched in its Env sequence. However, when challenge occurred at 6 weeks, 6 of 6 SIV239Δnef-immunized monkeys became superinfected by challenge virus mismatched in its Env sequence (SIV239/EnvE543). These results contrast markedly not only with the results of the week 22 challenge but also with the sterilizing immunity observed in 5 of 5 SIV239Δnef-immunized rhesus monkeys challenged at 5 weeks with SIV239, i.e., with no mismatch of Env sequences. We conclude from these studies that a mismatch of Env sequences in the challenge virus can have a dramatic effect on the extent of apparent sterilizing immunity when challenge occurs relatively early, 5 to 6 weeks after the nef-deleted SIV administration. However, by 22 weeks, mismatch of Env sequences has little or no influence on the degree of protection against challenge virus. Our findings suggest that anti-Env immune responses are a key component of the protective immunity elicited by live attenuated, nef-deleted SIV.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00798-13
PMCID: PMC3700272  PMID: 23637396
23.  Persistence of Viral Reservoirs in Multiple Tissues after Antiretroviral Therapy Suppression in a Macaque RT-SHIV Model 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84275.
Although antiretroviral therapy (ART) can suppress HIV-1 replication sufficiently to eliminate measurable plasma viremia, infected cells remain and ensure viral recrudescence after discontinuation of ART. We used a macaque model of HIV-1/AIDS to evaluate the location of infected cells during ART. Twelve macaques were infected with RT-SHIVmne, a SIV containing HIV-1 reverse transcriptase, conferring sensitivity to non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs). Ten to fourteen weeks post-infection, 6 animals were treated with 3 or 4 antiretroviral drugs for 17-20 weeks; 6 control animals remained untreated. Viral DNA (vDNA) and RNA (vRNA) were measured in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and at necropsy in multiple tissues by quantitative PCR and RT-PCR. The majority of virally infected cells were located in lymphoid tissues with variable levels in the gastrointestinal tract of both treated and untreated animals. Tissue viral DNA levels correlated with week 1 plasma viremia, suggesting that tissues that harbor proviral DNA are established within the first week of infection. PBMC vDNA levels did not correlate with plasma viremia or tissue levels of vDNA. vRNA levels were high in lymphoid and gastrointestinal tissues of the untreated animals; animals on ART had little vRNA expressed in tissues and virus could not be cultured from lymph node resting CD4+ cells after 17-20 weeks on ART, indicating little or no ongoing viral replication. Strategies for eradication of HIV-1 will need to target residual virus in ART suppressed individuals, which may not be accurately reflected by frequencies of infected cells in blood.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084275
PMCID: PMC3867492  PMID: 24367650
24.  Location and Dynamics of the Immunodominant CD8 T Cell Response to SIVΔnef Immunization and SIVmac251 Vaginal Challenge 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81623.
Live-attenuated SIV vaccines (LAVs) have been the most effective to date in preventing or partially controlling infection by wild-type SIV in non-human primate models of HIV-1 transmission to women acting by mechanisms of protection that are not well understood. To gain insights into mechanisms of protection by LAVs that could aid development of effective vaccines to prevent HIV-1 transmission to women, we used in situ tetramer staining to determine whether increased densities or changes in the local distribution of SIV-specific CD8 T cells correlated with the maturation of SIVΔnef vaccine-induced protection prior to and after intra-vaginal challenge with wild-type SIVmac251. We evaluated the immunodominant Mamu-A1*001:01/Gag (CM9) and Mamu-A1*001:01/Tat (SL8) epitope response in genital and lymphoid tissues, and found that tetramer+ cells were present at all time points examined. In the cervical vaginal tissues, most tetramer+ cells were distributed diffusely throughout the lamina propria or co-localized with other CD8 T cells within lymphoid aggregates. The distribution and densities of the tetramer+ cells at the portal of entry did not correlate with the maturation of protection or change after challenge. Given these findings, we discuss the possibility that changes in other aspects of the immune system, including the quality of the resident population of virus-specific effector CD8 T cells could contribute to maturation of protection, as well as the potential for vaccine strategies that further increase the size and quality of this effector population to prevent HIV-1 transmission.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081623
PMCID: PMC3857218  PMID: 24349100
25.  Comparative Characterization of Transfection- and Infection-Derived Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Challenge Stocks for In Vivo Nonhuman Primate Studies 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(8):4584-4595.
Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) stocks for in vivo nonhuman primate models of AIDS are typically generated by transfection of 293T cells with molecularly cloned viral genomes or by expansion in productively infected T cells. Although titers of stocks are determined for infectivity in vitro prior to in vivo inoculation, virus production methods may differentially affect stock features that are not routinely analyzed but may impact in vivo infectivity, mucosal transmissibility, and early infection events. We performed a detailed analysis of nine SIV stocks, comprising five infection-derived SIVmac251 viral swarm stocks and paired infection- and transfected-293T-cell-derived stocks of both SIVmac239 and SIVmac766. Representative stocks were evaluated for (i) virus content, (ii) infectious titer, (iii) sequence diversity and polymorphism frequency by single-genome amplification and 454 pyrosequencing, (iv) virion-associated Env content, and (v) cytokine and chemokine content by 36-plex Luminex analysis. Regardless of production method, all stocks had comparable particle/infectivity ratios, with the transfected-293T stocks possessing the highest overall virus content and infectivity titers despite containing markedly lower levels of virion-associated Env than infection-derived viruses. Transfected-293T stocks also contained fewer and lower levels of cytokines and chemokines than infection-derived stocks, which had elevated levels of multiple analytes, with substantial variability among stocks. Sequencing of the infection-derived SIVmac251 stocks revealed variable levels of viral diversity between stocks, with evidence of stock-specific selection and expansion of unique viral lineages. These analyses suggest that there may be underappreciated features of SIV in vivo challenge stocks with the potential to impact early infection events, which may merit consideration when selecting virus stocks for in vivo studies.
doi:10.1128/JVI.03507-12
PMCID: PMC3624367  PMID: 23408608

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