T-cell based vaccines against HIV have the goal of limiting both transmission and disease progression by inducing broad and functionally relevant T cell responses. Moreover, polyfunctional and long-lived specific memory T cells have been associated to vaccine-induced protection. CD4+ T cells are important for the generation and maintenance of functional CD8+ cytotoxic T cells. We have recently developed a DNA vaccine encoding 18 conserved multiple HLA-DR-binding HIV-1 CD4 epitopes (HIVBr18), capable of eliciting broad CD4+ T cell responses in multiple HLA class II transgenic mice. Here, we evaluated the breadth and functional profile of HIVBr18-induced immune responses in BALB/c mice. Immunized mice displayed high-magnitude, broad CD4+/CD8+ T cell responses, and 8/18 vaccine-encoded peptides were recognized. In addition, HIVBr18 immunization was able to induce polyfunctional CD4+ and CD8+ T cells that proliferate and produce any two cytokines (IFNγ/TNFα, IFNγ/IL-2 or TNFα/IL-2) simultaneously in response to HIV-1 peptides. For CD4+ T cells exclusively, we also detected cells that proliferate and produce all three tested cytokines simultaneously (IFNγ/TNFα/IL-2). The vaccine also generated long-lived central and effector memory CD4+ T cells, a desirable feature for T-cell based vaccines. By virtue of inducing broad, polyfunctional and long-lived T cell responses against conserved CD4+ T cell epitopes, combined administration of this vaccine concept may provide sustained help for CD8+ T cells and antibody responses- elicited by other HIV immunogens. © 2011 Rosa et al.
Rosa, D. S., Ribeiro, S. P., Almeida, R. R., Mairena, E. C., Postól, E., Kalil, J., & Cunha-Neto, E. (2011). A DNA vaccine encoding multiple HIV CD4 epitopes elicits vigorous polyfunctional, long-lived CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses. PLoS ONE, 6(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0016921