Safety and Immunogenicity of an HIV-1 Gag DNA Vaccine with or without IL-12 and/or IL-15 Plasmid Cytokine Adjuvant in Healthy, HIV-1 Uninfected Adults.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


PloS one, Volume 7, Issue 1, p.e29231 (2012)


2012, January 2012, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division


BACKGROUND: DNA vaccines are a promising approach to vaccination since they circumvent the problem of vector-induced immunity. DNA plasmid cytokine adjuvants have been shown to augment immune responses in small animals and in macaques. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We performed two first in human HIV vaccine trials in the US, Brazil and Thailand of an RNA-optimized truncated HIV-1 gag gene (p37) DNA derived from strain HXB2 administered either alone or in combination with dose-escalation of IL-12 or IL-15 plasmid cytokine adjuvants. Vaccinations with both the HIV immunogen and cytokine adjuvant were generally well-tolerated and no significant vaccine-related adverse events were identified. A small number of subjects developed asymptomatic low titer antibodies to IL-12 or IL-15. Cellular immunogenicity following 3 and 4 vaccinations was poor, with response rates to gag of 4.9%/8.7% among vaccinees receiving gag DNA alone, 0%/11.5% among those receiving gag DNA+IL-15, and no responders among those receiving DNA+high dose (1500 ug) IL-12 DNA. However, after three doses, 44.4% (4/9) of vaccinees receiving gag DNA and intermediate dose (500 ug) of IL-12 DNA demonstrated a detectable cellular immune response. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This combination of HIV gag DNA with plasmid cytokine adjuvants was well tolerated. There were minimal responses to HIV gag DNA alone, and no apparent augmentation with either IL-12 or IL-15 plasmid cytokine adjuvants. Despite the promise of DNA vaccines, newer formulations or methods of delivery will be required to increase their immunogenicity. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT00115960NCT00111605.