Development of an effective vaccine against HIV-1 will likely require the induction of a broad array of immune responses, including virus-specific CTLs and neutralizing antibodies. One promising vaccine approach involves live recombinant canarypox (CP)-based vectors (ALVAC) containing multiple HIV-1 genes. In phase I clinical trials in HIV-1-seronegative volunteers, the cumulative rate of detection of HIV-1-specific CTLs has been as high as 60- 70%. In the present study, the factors associated with CTL responsiveness were evaluated in a subset of vaccinees immunized with a CP vector expressing portions of the gag, pro, and env genes of HIV-1 (ALVAC-HIV). CTL responses were detected in one of seven examined. While the responding individual had both CD4+ and CD8+ CTLs directed at multiple HIV-1 antigens, this response was not detectable 1 year after the last vaccination. In-depth characterization of 'CTL nonresponders' showed that nonresponsiveness was not associated with defects in antigen processing or presentation. A generalized defect in CTL responsiveness was ruled out by parallel assays to detect CMV- specific CTLs from these same volunteers. Furthermore, HIV-1-specific memory CTLs were not detectable by peptide stimulation or by a novel technique for flow cytometric visualization of Gag epitope-specific T lymphocytes while HIV-1-seropositive donors frequently had 0.1-3% of CD8+ cells stain positively for this epitope (SLYNTVATL). Taken together, these results suggest that the lack of detectable HIV-1 CTLs in these volunteers was not due to classic MHC-linked nonresponsiveness.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases