Despite enormous efforts by the scientific community, an effective HIV vaccine remains elusive. To further address to what degree T cells in absence of antibodies may protect against simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) disease progression, rhesus macaques were vaccinated intramuscularly with a chimpanzee-derived Ad vector (AdC) serotype 6 and then boosted intramuscularly with a serologically distinct AdC vector of serotype 7 both expressing Gag of SIVmac239. Animals were subsequently boosted intramuscularly with a modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) virus expressing Gag and Tat of the homologous SIV before mucosal challenge with a high dose of SIVmac239 given rectally. Whereas vaccinated animals showed only a modest reduction of viral loads, their overall survival was improved, in association with a substantial protection from the loss of CD4 T cells. In addition, the two vaccinated Mamu-A01 macaques controlled viral loads to levels below detection within weeks after challenge. These data strongly suggest that T cells, while unable to affect SIV acquisition upon high-dose rectal infection, can reduce disease progression. Induction of potent T-cell responses should thus remain a component of our efforts to develop an efficacious vaccine to HIV-1.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was funded by grants from NIH/DAIDS and institutional grants to the Wistar Institute including a US National Cancer Institute Cancer Core Grant (CA10815) and the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement Program from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. We thank Christina Cole for help in preparation of the manuscript. The authors declared no conflict of interest.
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