Immune responses in asymptomatic HIV-1-infected patients after HIV-DNA immunization followed by highly active antiretroviral treatment.
Intensive chemotherapy is capable of reducing the viral load in HIV-1-infected individuals while infected cells are still present. A special property of DNA immunization is to induce both new CTL and Ab responses. We evaluated the possibility of inducing new immune responses in already infected individuals by means of DNA constructs encoding the nef, rev, or tat regulatory HIV-1 genes. Significant changes in viral loads and CD4+ counts were observed in four patients who started highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) during the immunization study. The DNA immunization induced Ag-specific T cell proliferation, which persisted up to 9 mo after the last DNA injection, and cytolytic activities but did not, by itself, reduce viral load. Increased levels of CTL precursor cells were induced in all nine DNA-immunized patients. The profile of IFN-gamma secretion observed when human PBMC were transfected with the nef, rev, and tat DNA resembled that found in the CTL activity (nef > tat > rev). Ab responses that occurred after immunizations were of a low magnitude. In accordance with the high IL-6 production induced by the nef DNA plasmid, IgG titers were highest in patients immunized with nef DNA. The initiation of HAART appears to contribute to the induction of new HIV-specific CTL responses, but by itself did not cause obvious re-induction of these activities.
Calarota, SA; Leandersson, AC; Bratt, G; Hinkula, J; Klinman, DM; Weinhold, KJ; Sandström, E; Wahren, B
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