Priming of strong, broad, and long-lived HIV type 1 p55gag-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T cells after administration of a virus-like particle vaccine in rhesus macaques

AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2000 Feb 10;16(3):273-82. doi: 10.1089/088922200309368.


Despite advances in the clinical management of HIV infection, using combinations of antiretroviral pharmaceuticals, a safe and efficacious vaccine is needed to limit the AIDS pandemic. It is now thought that an effective HIV-1 vaccine should prime both cross-neutralizing antibodies and long-lasting cytotoxic CD8+ T lymphocytes (CTLs) recognizing multiple codominant HIV-1 epitopes. To that end, many novel vaccine strategies have been tested. However, only a few of these strategies, beside those relying on live-attenuated viruses, are able to prime strong CTL responses in nonhuman primates and humans. In this study, three rhesus macaques were immunized with HIV-1 p55gag virus-like particles (VLPs) in the absence of adjuvant to assess the potential of such a vaccine to prime CTL responses. After intramuscular injection of p55gag VLP, all three animals mounted CTL responses against HIV-1 p55gag. Notably, these CTLs primed by vaccination recognized naturally processed peptides and were long lived (>8.5 months) both in the peripheral blood and draining lymph node. Furthermore, these CTLs were directed against multiple HIV-1 p55gag epitopes. This indicated that immunization with p55gag VLP primes strong MHC class I-restricted, CD8+ cell-mediated immune responses and suggested that HIV-1 p55gag VLPs should be a reasonable vaccine candidate, when combined with strategies priming cross-neutralizing antibodies.

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • AIDS Vaccines / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation / immunology
  • Gene Products, gag / immunology*
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Peptides / immunology
  • Protein Precursors / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • Time Factors
  • Vaccination
  • Virion / immunology


  • AIDS Vaccines
  • Gene Products, gag
  • Peptides
  • Protein Precursors
  • p55 gag precursor protein, Human immunodeficiency virus 1