Safety and immunogenicity of an HLA-based HIV envelope polyvalent synthetic peptide immunogen

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Objective:To evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of a polyvalent (PV) HIV envelope synthetic peptide immunogen, C4-V3. The immunogen comprised four peptides containing T-helper epitopes from the fourth constant region (C4) of gp120 of HIV-1MN, and T-helper, cytotoxic T-lymphocyte HLA-B7-restricted, and B-cell neutralizing epitopes from the gp120 third variable region (V3) of four clade B HIV-1 isolates, HIV-1MN, HIV-1RF, HIV-1EV91, and HIV-1Can0A.Design:A pilot, Phase I controlled trial [Division of AIDS Treatment Research Initiative (DATRI) 010] conducted at a single center.Methods:Ten HIV-infected, HLA-B7-positive patients with CD4 cells > 500 × 106/l were enrolled. Eight patients received the C4-V3 PV immunogen emulsified in incomplete Freund's adjuvant in five intramuscular injections over 24 weeks, and two controls received incomplete Freund's adjuvant alone. All subjects were followed for 52 weeks.Results:Four out of eight C4-V3 PV recipients generated at least fourfold rise in serum antibody titers to at least three immunogen peptides in contrast to none of the control subjects. Four out of eight C4-V3 PV recipients and none of the controls had an at least fourfold rise in neutralizing antibodies to either HIV-1MN, HIV-1RF, or HIV-14489-5 laboratory-adapted HIV isolates. 3H-Thymidine incorporation assays of peripheral blood mononuclear cells increased at least fivefold over the baseline stimulation index to at least one of the immunogen peptides in two consecutive post-immunization timepoints in five out of eight C4-V3 PV recipients versus none of the controls. CD4 cell counts and plasma HIV RNA levels did not change in patients who received either C4-V3 PV or adjuvant alone. Adverse events consisted primarily of grade 1 injection site reactions in six subjects (four C4-V3 recipients, two controls).Conclusions:C4-V3 PV synthetic peptides demonstrated both immunogenicity and safety in HIV-infected patients.

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