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Vaccine. 2012 May 2;30(21):3202-8. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.02.069. Epub 2012 Mar 8.

An optimized SIV DNA vaccine can serve as a boost for Ad5 and provide partial protection from a high-dose SIVmac251 challenge.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, United States.


One limitation in the development of an improved cellular response needed for an effective HIV-vaccine is the inability to induce robust effector T-cells capable of suppressing a heterologous challenge. To improve cellular immune responses, we examined the ability of an optimized DNA vaccine to boost the cellular immune responses induced by a highly immunogenic Ad5 prime. Five Chinese rhesus macaques received pVax encoding consensus (con) gag/pol/env intramuscularly (IM) with electroporation followed by the Merck Ad5 gag/pol/nef vaccine. A second group of five animals were vaccinated with Merck Ad5 gag/pol/nef followed by pVax gag/pol/env. One year following vaccination, Ad5-prime DNA-boosted monkeys and four unvaccinated controls received an intrarectal challenge with 1000 ID50 SIV(mac)251. The quality and magnitude of the T-cell response was analyzed by ELISpot and polyfunctional flow cytometry. We observed that an Ad5-prime DNA-boost resulted in significantly elevated SIV-specific T-cell responses even compared with animals receiving a DNA-prime Ad5-boost. Ad5 prime DNA boosted animals were capable of suppressing a pathogenic SIV(mac)251 challenge. Peak control correlated with the expansion of HLA-DR(+) CD8(+) T-cells two weeks post-infection. These data illustrate that high optimization of a DNA vaccine can drive of immune responses primed by a robust vector system. This previously unachievable feature of these newly optimized DNAs warrants future studies of this strategy that may circumvent issues of serology associated with viral vector prime-boost systems.

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