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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Sep 15;90(18):8638-42.

T- and B-cell functions and epitope expression in nonhuman primates immunized with simian immunodeficiency virus antigen by the rectal route.

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


Transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in North America and Europe occurs most commonly through the rectal mucosa during homosexual intercourse. The simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) macaque model has been used to investigate rectal immunization. The vaccine used was a recombinant SIV gag p27 expressed as hybrid Ty virus-like particles (Ty-VLP). Sequential ororectal (OR) mucosal immunization was compared with i.m. immunization. Whereas both routes of immunization induced serum IgA and IgG p27 antibodies, only OR immunization induced rectal secretory IgA antibodies. Specific CD4+ T-cell proliferative responses to stimulation with p27 were found after i.m. immunization only in the blood and spleen, but after OR immunization they were found in the internal iliac and inferior mesenteric lymph nodes in addition to the blood and spleen. T-cell epitope mapping of the proliferative responses of short-term cell lines (STCLs) grown from peripheral blood or lymphoid cells revealed a major epitope within the polypeptide 121-150 after either route of immunization. Two minor T-cell epitopes were found within peptide 41-80 in STCLs from splenic and circulating cells. B-cell epitope mapping of serum or biliary IgA and IgG antibodies revealed two overlapping or adjacent immunodominant epitopes to the T-cell epitopes within the polypeptides 121-170 and 51-90. The results suggest that rectal augmented by oral immunization with a recombinant particulate antigen in nonhuman primates elicits secretory IgA and to a lesser extent IgG responses in the draining lymph nodes and the rectal mucosa, whereas systemic immunization targets predominantly splenic and circulating T- and B-cell responses. These findings may have important implications in the strategy of designing vaccines in prevention of homosexual transmission of HIV infection.

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