Immune-Correlates Analysis of an HIV-1 Vaccine Efficacy Trial

HIV Vaccine Study Offers Up Possible Antibody Protection Clues

Scientists continued to unravel clues as to why a combination of two preventive HIV vaccines—ALVAC HIV and AIDSVAX B/E—may have worked for some but not others in a large scale clinical trial reported in 2009. A new paper (see below) published online ahead of print in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) suggests those who produced relatively high levels of a specific antibody after receiving the vaccinations in study RV 144 were less likely to become infected with HIV, compared with those who did not.

Click here to read the full AIDSmed.com article.

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Immune-Correlates Analysis of an HIV-1 Vaccine Efficacy Trial

As seen in The New England Journal of Medicine 

BACKGROUND

In the RV144 trial, the estimated efficacy of a vaccine regimen against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) was 31.2%. We performed a case–control analysis to identify antibody and cellular immune correlates of infection risk.

METHODS

In pilot studies conducted with RV144 blood samples, 17 antibody or cellular assays met prespecified criteria, of which 6 were chosen for primary analysis to determine the roles of T-cell, IgG antibody, and IgA antibody responses in the modulation of infection risk. Assays were performed on samples from 41 vaccinees who became infected and 205 uninfected vaccinees, obtained 2 weeks after final immunization, to evaluate whether immune-response variables predicted HIV-1 infection through 42 months of follow-up.

RESULTS

Of six primary variables, two correlated significantly with infection risk: the binding of IgG antibodies to variable regions 1 and 2 (V1V2) of HIV-1 envelope proteins (Env) correlated inversely with the rate of HIV-1 infection (estimated odds ratio, 0.57 per 1-SD increase; P=0.02; q=0.08), and the binding of plasma IgA antibodies to Env correlated directly with the rate of infection (estimated odds ratio, 1.54 per 1-SD increase; P=0.03; q=0.08). Neither low levels of V1V2 antibodies nor high levels of Env-specific IgA antibodies were associated with higher rates of infection than were found in the placebo group. Secondary analyses suggested that Env-specific IgA antibodies may mitigate the effects of potentially protective antibodies.

CONCLUSIONS

This immune-correlates study generated the hypotheses that V1V2 antibodies may have contributed to protection against HIV-1 infection, whereas high levels of Env-specific IgA antibodies may have mitigated the effects of protective antibodies. Vaccines that are designed to induce higher levels of V1V2 antibodies and lower levels of Env-specific IgA antibodies than are induced by the RV144 vaccine may have improved efficacy against HIV-1 infection.