Enhanced control of pathogenic Simian immunodeficiency virus SIVmac239 replication in macaques immunized with an interleukin-12 plasmid and a DNA prime-viral vector boost vaccine regimen.
Simian Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
Simian Immunodeficiency Virus
DNA priming has previously been shown to elicit augmented immune responses when administered by electroporation (EP) or codelivered with a plasmid encoding interleukin-12 (pIL-12). We hypothesized that the efficacy of a DNA prime and recombinant adenovirus 5 boost vaccination regimen (DNA/rAd5) would be improved when incorporating these vaccination strategies into the DNA priming phase, as determined by pathogenic simian immunodeficiency virus SIVmac239 challenge outcome. The whole SIVmac239 proteome was delivered in 5 separate DNA plasmids (pDNA-SIV) by EP with or without pIL-12, followed by boosting 4 months later with corresponding rAd5-SIV vaccine vectors. Remarkably, after repeated low-dose SIVmac239 mucosal challenge, we demonstrate 2.6 and 4.4 log reductions of the median SIV peak and set point viral loads in rhesus macaques (RMs) that received pDNA-SIV by EP with pIL-12 compared to the median peak and set point viral loads in mock-immunized controls (P < 0.01). In 5 out of 6 infected RMs, strong suppression of viremia was observed, with intermittent "blips" in virus replication. In 2 RMs, we could not detect the presence of SIV RNA in tissue and lymph nodes, even after 13 viral challenges. RMs immunized without pIL-12 demonstrated a typical maximum of 1.5 log reduction in virus load. There was no significant difference in the overall magnitude of SIV-specific antibodies or CD8 T-cell responses between groups; however, pDNA delivery by EP with pIL-12 induced a greater magnitude of SIV-specific CD4 T cells that produced multiple cytokines. This vaccine strategy is relevant for existing vaccine candidates entering clinical evaluation, and this model may provide insights into control of retrovirus replication.