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Vaccine. 2001 Dec 12;20(5-6):813-25.

Protection against chronic infection and AIDS by an HIV envelope peptide-cocktail vaccine in a pathogenic SHIV-rhesus model.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Sciences, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Science Park, 650 Coolwater Drive, Bastrop, TX 78602, USA.


Based on our prior studies in mouse, monkey, chimpanzee, and human experimental systems, we identified six peptides encoded by highly conserved regions of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope gene that selectively induce cellular immune responses in the absence of anti-viral antibody production. We tested a cocktail of the six peptides as a prototype vaccine for protection from simian human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) infection and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in a rhesus monkey model. Three monkeys were vaccinated with the peptide cocktail in Freund's adjuvant followed by autologous dendritic cells (DC) pulsed with these peptides. All the vaccinated animals exhibited significant induction of T-cell proliferation and cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) responses, but no neutralizing antibodies. Two control mock-vaccinated monkeys showed no specific immune responses. Upon challenge with the pathogenic SHIV(KU-2), both the control and vaccinated monkeys were infected, but efficient clearance of virus-infected cells was observed in all the three vaccinated animals within 14 weeks. These animals also experienced a boosting of antiviral cellular immune responses after infection, and maintained antigen-specific IFN-gamma-producing cells in circulation beyond 42 weeks post-challenge. In contrast, the two mock-vaccinated monkeys had low to undetectable cellular immune responses and maintained significant levels of viral-infected cells and infectious virus in circulation. Further, in both the control monkeys plasma viremia was detectable beyond 38 weeks post-challenge indicating chronic phase infection. In one control monkey, the CD4+ cells dropped to very low levels by 2 weeks post-challenge and became undetectable by week 39 coinciding with high plasma viremia and AIDS, which included cachexia and ataxia. These results serve as proof of principle for the effectiveness of the HIV envelope peptide cocktail vaccine against chronic infection and AIDS, and support the development of multivalent peptide-based vaccine as a viable strategy to induce cell-mediated immunity (CMI) for protection against HIV and AIDS in humans.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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