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Paper of the Month January 2013

DNA and virus particle vaccination protects against acquisition and confers control of viremia upon heterologous simian immunodeficiency virus challenge

Proc Natl Acad Sci USA.  2013. Jan 28 [Epub ahead of print]


Patel V, Jalah R, Kulkarni V, Valentin A, Rosati M, Alicea C, von Gegerfelt A, Huang W, Guan Y, Keele BF, Bess JW Jr, Piatak M Jr, Lifson JD, Williams WT, Shen X, Tomaras GD, Amara RR, Robinson HL, Johnson W, Broderick KE, Sardesai NY, Venzon DJ, Hirsch VM, Felber BK, Pavlakis GN.

Human Retrovirus Section, and Human Retrovirus Pathogenesis Section, Vaccine Branch, Center for Cancer Research, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, Frederick, MD, USA.


We have previously shown that macaques vaccinated with DNA vectors expressing SIVmac239 antigens developed potent immune responses able to reduce viremia upon high-dose SIVmac251 challenge. To further improve vaccine-induced immunity and protection, we combined the SIVmac239 DNA vaccine with protein immunization using inactivated SIVmac239 viral particles as protein source. Twenty-six weeks after the last vaccination, the animals were challenged intrarectally at weekly intervals with a titrated dose of the heterologous SIVsmE660. Two of DNA-protein coimmunized macaques did not become infected after 14 challenges, but all controls were infected by 11 challenges. Vaccinated macaques showed modest protection from SIVsmE660 acquisition compared with na?ve controls (P = 0.050; stratified for TRIM5α genotype). Vaccinees had significantly lower peak (1.6 log, P = 0.0048) and chronic phase viremia (P = 0.044), with 73% of the vaccinees suppressing viral replication to levels below assay detection during the 40-wk follow-up. Vaccine-induced immune responses associated significantly with virus control: binding antibody titers and the presence of rectal IgG to SIVsmE660 Env correlated with delayed SIVsmE660 acquisition; SIV-specific cytotoxic T cells, prechallenge CD4(+) effector memory, and postchallenge CD8(+) transitional memory cells correlated with control of viremia. Thus, SIVmac239 DNA and protein-based vaccine protocols were able to achieve high, persistent, broad, and effective cellular and humoral immune responses able to delay heterologous SIVsmE660 infection and to provide long-term control of viremia. These studies support a role of DNA and protein-based vaccines for development of an efficacious HIV/AIDS vaccine.