Early CD4+ T cell responses are associated with subsequent CD8+ T cell responses to an rAd5-based prophylactic prime-boost HIV vaccine strategy

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Abstract

© 2016 Lhomme et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.Introduction: Initial evaluation of a candidate vaccine against HIV includes an assessment of the vaccine's ability to generate immune responses. However, the dynamics of vaccine-induced immune responses are unclear. We hypothesized that the IFN-γ producing cytotoxic CD8+ (CD8+ IFN-γ+) T cell responses could be predicted by early IL-2 producing CD4+ (CD4+ IL-2+) helper T cell responses, and we evaluated this hypothesis using data from a phase I/II prophylactic HIV vaccine trial. The objective was to assess the dynamics and correlations between CD4+ IL-2+ T cell and CD8+ IFN-γ+ T cell responses after vaccination with a recombinant adenoviral serotype 5 (rAd5) HIV vaccine. Methods: We analyzed data from the HVTN 068 HIV vaccine trial, which evaluated the immunogenicity of two different strategies for prime and boost vaccination (rAd5-rAd5 vaccine versus DNA-rAd5) in 66 healthy volunteers. Spearman correlations between immunogenicity markers across time-points were calculated. CD8+ IFN-γ+ T cell response in the rAd5-rAd5 arm was modeled as a function of CD4+ IL-2+ T cell response and time using mixed effects regression models. Results: Moderate to high correlations (r = 0.48-0.76) were observed in the rAd5-rAd5 arm between the CD4+ IL-2+ T cell response at week 2 and later CD8+ IFN-γ+ T cell responses (weeks 2-52). Regression models confirmed this relationship with a significant association between the two markers: for a 1.0% increase in CD4+ IL-2+ T cells at week 2 post-prime, a 0.3% increase in CD8+ IFN-γ+ T cell responses across subsequent time points, including post-boost time points, was observed (p<0.01). Conclusion: These results suggest an early and leading role of CD4+ T cells in the cellular response to the rAd5-rAd5 vaccine and in particular the stimulation of cytotoxic CD8+ T cell responses. These results could inform better timing of CD4+ T cell measurements in future clinical trials.

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Lhomme, E., Richert, L., Moodie, Z., Pasin, C., Kalams, S. A., Morgan, C., … Thiébaut, R. (2016). Early CD4+ T cell responses are associated with subsequent CD8+ T cell responses to an rAd5-based prophylactic prime-boost HIV vaccine strategy. PLoS ONE, 11(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0152952

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