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J Infect Dis. 2005 Mar 1;191(5):666-77. Epub 2005 Jan 27.

Correlation between immunologic responses to a recombinant glycoprotein 120 vaccine and incidence of HIV-1 infection in a phase 3 HIV-1 preventive vaccine trial.

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Statistical Center for HIV/AIDS Research and Prevention, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, USA.



An objective of the first efficacy trial of a candidate vaccine containing recombinant human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 envelope glycoprotein 120 (rgp120) antigens was to assess correlations between antibody responses to rgp120 and the incidence of HIV-1 infection.


Within the randomized trial (for vaccinees, n=3598; for placebo recipients, n=1805), binding and neutralizing antibody responses to rgp120 were quantitated. A case-cohort design was used to study correlations between antibody levels and HIV-1 incidence.


Peak antibody levels were significantly inversely correlated with HIV-1 incidence. The relative risk (RR) of infection was 0.63 (95% confidence interval, 0.45-0.89) per log(10) higher neutralization titer against HIV-1(MN), and the RRs of infection for second-, third-, and fourth-quartile responses of antibody blocking of gp120 binding to soluble CD4 versus first-quartile responses (the lowest responses) were 0.35, 0.28, and 0.22, respectively.


Despite inducing a complex, robust immune response, the vaccine was unable to reduce the incidence of HIV-1. Two interpretations of the correlative results are that the levels of antibodies (i) caused both an increased (low responders) and decreased (high responders) risk of HIV-1 acquisition or (ii) represented a correlate of susceptibility to HIV-1 but had no causal effect on susceptibility. Although the data cannot definitively discriminate between these 2 explanations, (ii) appears to be more likely.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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