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J Virol. 2012 Oct;86(19):10533-9. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00796-12. Epub 2012 Jul 18.

Risk of immunodeficiency virus infection may increase with vaccine-induced immune response.

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Department of Molecular and Medical Virology, Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum, Germany.


To explore the efficacy of novel complementary prime-boost immunization regimens in a nonhuman primate model for HIV infection, rhesus monkeys primed by different DNA vaccines were boosted with virus-like particles (VLP) and then challenged by repeated low-dose rectal exposure to simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). Characteristic of the cellular immune response after the VLP booster immunization were high numbers of SIV-specific, gamma interferon-secreting cells after stimulation with inactivated SIV particles, but not SIV peptides, and the absence of detectable levels of CD8(+) T cell responses. Antibodies specific to SIV Gag and SIV Env could be induced in all animals, but, consistent with a poor neutralizing activity at the time of challenge, vaccinated monkeys were not protected from acquisition of infection and did not control viremia. Surprisingly, vaccinees with high numbers of SIV-specific, gamma interferon-secreting cells were infected fastest during the repeated low-dose exposures and the numbers of these immune cells in vaccinated macaques correlated with susceptibility to infection. Thus, in the absence of protective antibodies or cytotoxic T cell responses, vaccine-induced immune responses may increase the susceptibility to acquisition of immunodeficiency virus infection. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that virus-specific T helper cells mediate this detrimental effect and contribute to the inefficacy of past HIV vaccination attempts (e.g., STEP study).

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