Objective: A phase I trial was conducted to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of an HIV synthetic peptide vaccine in HIV-seropositive individuals. The immunogens used in this study were PCLUS 3-18MN and PCLUS 6.1-18MN envelope peptides.
Methods: Eight HIV-infected patients received six subcutaneous injections of 160 microg PCLUS 3-18MN in Montanide ISA 51 and were followed longitudinally for a year after the first immunization. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were tested for peptide-specific T helper and cytotoxic T cell (CTL) responses, HIV-1MN neutralizing antibodies and antibodies against HIV PCLUS 3 and P18 MN peptides.
Results: PCLUS 3-1 8MN-specific T helper responses were significantly increased at 36 weeks (P < 0.05, after adjustment for multiple comparisons) following initial immunization with PCLUS 3-18MN. A P18MN-specific CTL response, not present prior to vaccination, was observed after immunization in one patient. Serum HIV-1 MN-neutralizing antibody titers increased in each of the three patients who had low titers prior to immunization. Plasma HIV RNA levels and CD4 cell counts did not change appreciably during the study period.
Conclusions: This trial demonstrates that both peptides can be safely administered to HIV-infected individuals and that PCLUS 3-18MN induces increases in HIV peptide-specific immune responses.