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J Virol. 1994 Mar;68(3):1624-32.

Mucosal model of genital immunization in male rhesus macaques with a recombinant simian immunodeficiency virus p27 antigen.

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  • 1Division of Immunology, United Medical School, Guy's Hospital, London, United Kingdom.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can be transmitted through infected seminal fluid or vaginal or rectal secretions during heterosexual or homosexual intercourse. To prevent mucosal transmission and spread to the regional lymph nodes, an effective vaccine may need to stimulate immune responses at the genitourinary mucosa. In this study, we have developed a mucosal model of genital immunization in male rhesus macaques, by topical urethral immunization with recombinant simian immunodeficiency virus p27gag, expressed as a hybrid Ty virus-like particle (Ty-VLP) and covalently linked to cholera toxin B subunit. This treatment was augmented by oral immunization with the same vaccine but with added killed cholera vibrios. Polymeric secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) and IgG antibodies to p27 were induced in urethral secretions, urine, and seminal fluid. This raises the possibility that the antibodies may function as a primary mucosal defense barrier against SIV (HIV) infection. The regional lymph nodes which constitute the genital-associated lymphoid tissue contained p27-specific CD4+ proliferative and helper T cells for antibody synthesis by B cells, which may function as a secondary immune barrier to infection. Blood and splenic lymphocytes also showed p27-sensitized CD4+ T cells and B cells in addition to serum IgG and IgA p27-specific antibodies; this constitutes a third level of immunity against dissemination of the virus. A comparison of genito-oral with recto-oral and intramuscular routes of immunization suggests that only genito-oral immunization elicits specific sIgA and IgG antibodies in the urine, urethra, and seminal fluid. Both genito-oral and recto-oral immunizations induced T-cell and B-cell immune responses in regional lymph nodes, with preferential IgA antibody synthesis. The mucosal route of immunization may prevent not only virus transmission through the genital mucosa but also dissemination and latency of the virus in the draining lymph nodes.

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