Effect of vaginal immunization with HIVgp140 and HSP70 on HIV-1 replication and innate and T cell adaptive immunity in women

David J M Lewis, Yufei Wang, Zhiming Huo, Raphaela Giemza, Kaboutar Babaahmady, Durdana Rahman, Robin J Shattock, Mahavir Singh, Thomas Lehner

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20 Citations (Scopus)


The international effort to prevent HIV-1 infection by vaccination has failed to develop an effective vaccine. The aim of this vaccine trial in women was to administer by the vaginal mucosal route a vaccine consisting of HIV-1 gp140 linked to the chaperone 70-kDa heat shock protein (HSP70). The primary objective was to determine the safety of the vaccine. The secondary objective was to examine HIV-1 infectivity ex vivo and innate and adaptive immunity to HIV-1. Protocol-defined female volunteers were recruited. HIV-1 CN54gp140 linked to HSP70 was administered by the vaginal route. Significant adverse reactions were not detected. HIV-1 was significantly inhibited ex vivo in postimmunization CD4(+) T cells compared with preimmunization CD4(+) T cells. The innate antiviral restrictive factor APOBEC3G was significantly upregulated, as were CC chemokines which induce downregulation of CCR5 in CD4(+) T cells. Indeed, a significant inverse correlation between the proportion of CCR5(+) T cells and the concentration of CCL-3 or CCL-5 was found. Importantly, the upregulation of APOBEC3G showed a significant inverse correlation, whereas CCR5 exhibited a trend to correlate with inhibition of HIV-1 infection (r = 0.51). Furthermore, specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell proliferative responses were significantly increased and CD4(+) T cells showed a trend to have an inverse correlation with the viral load (r = -0.60). However, HIVgp140-specific IgG or IgA antibodies were not detected. The results provide proof of concept that an innate mechanism consisting of CC chemokines, APOBEC3G, and adaptive immunity by CD4 and CD8 T cells might be involved in controlling HIV-1 infectivity following vaginal mucosal immunization in women. (This study has been registered at ClinicalTrials.gov under registration no. NCT01285141.) Importance: Vaginal immunization of women with a vaccine consisting of HIVgp140 linked to the 70-kDa heat shock protein (HSP70) elicited ex vivo significant inhibition of HIV-1 replication in postimmunization CD4(+) T cells compared with that in preimmunization peripheral blood mononuclear cells. There were no significant adverse events. The vaccine induced the significant upregulation of CC chemokines and the downmodulation of CCR5 expression in CD4(+) T cells, as well as an inverse correlation between them. Furthermore, the level of CCR5 expression was directly correlated with the viral load, consistent with the protective mechanism in which a decrease in CCR5 molecules on CD4(+) T cells decreases HIV-1 envelope binding. Expression of the antiviral restriction factor APOBEC3G was inversely correlated with the viral load, suggesting that it may inhibit intracellular HIV-1 replication. Both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells showed HIVgp140- and HSP70-specific proliferation. A strong inverse correlation between the proportion of CC chemokine-modulated CCR5-expressing CD4(+) T cells and the stimulation of CD4(+) or CD8(+) T cell proliferation by HIVgp140 was found, demonstrating a significant interaction between innate and adaptive immunity. This is the first clinical trial of vaginal immunization in women using only HIVgp140 and HSP70 administered by the mucosal route (3 times) in which a dual innate protective mechanism was induced and enhanced by significant adaptive CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell proliferative responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11648-57
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number20
Early online date22 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


  • AIDS Vaccines
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Female
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp41
  • HIV-1
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Rabbits
  • T-Lymphocytes
  • Vagina
  • Virus Replication
  • Young Adult
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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