Administration of a Toll-like receptor 9 agonist decreases the proviral reservoir in virologically suppressed HIV-infected patients.
Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists can reactivate HIV from latently infected cells in vitro. We aimed to investigate the TLR-9 agonist, CPG 7909's in vivo effect on the proviral HIV reservoir and HIV-specific immunity. This was a post-hoc analysis of a double-blind randomized controlled vaccine trial. HIV-infected adults were randomized 1:1 to receive pneumococcal vaccines with or without 1 mg CPG 7909 as adjuvant at 0, 3 and 9 months. In patients on suppressive antiretroviral therapy we quantified proviral DNA at 0, 3, 4, 9, and 10 months (31 subjects in the CPG group and 37 in the placebo-adjuvant group). Furthermore, we measured HIV-specific antibodies, characterized T cell phenotypes and HIV-specific T cell immunity. We observed a mean reduction in proviral DNA in the CPG group of 12.6% (95% CI: -23.6-0.0) following each immunization whereas proviral DNA in the placebo-adjuvant group remained largely unchanged (6.7% increase; 95% CI: -4.2-19.0 after each immunization, p = 0.02). Among participants with additional cryo-preserved PBMCs, HIV-specific CD8+ T cell immunity as indicated by increased expression of degranulation marker CD107a and macrophage inflammatory protein 1β (MIP1β) tended to be up-regulated following immunization with CPG 7909 compared with placebo as adjuvant. Further, increasing proportion of HIV-specific CD107a and MIP1β-expressing CD8+ T cells were strongly correlated with decreasing proviral load. No changes were observed in T cell phenotype distribution, HIV-specific CD4+ T cell immunity, or HIV-specific antibodies. TLR9-adjuvanted pneumococcal vaccination decreased proviral load. Reductions in proviral load correlated with increasing levels of HIV specific CD8+ T cells. Further investigation into the potential effect of TLR9 agonists on HIV latency is warranted.
Winckelmann, AA; Munk-Petersen, LV; Rasmussen, TA; Melchjorsen, J; Hjelholt, TJ; Montefiori, D; Østergaard, L; Søgaard, OS; Tolstrup, M
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