Helminth infection suppresses T-cell immune response to HIV-DNA-based vaccine in mice

Vaccine. 2006 Jun 12;24(24):5211-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2006.03.078. Epub 2006 Apr 18.


A number of HIV-1 vaccines are in various phases of clinical trials and many more are in the developmental pipeline. Vaccines are especially needed for developing countries where morbidity and mortality due to HIV/AIDS is most severe, the prevalence of HIV infection is highest, and its incidence is often still rising dramatically. Individuals living in these regions are often infected with one or more helminth parasites which systemically bias the immune system towards Th2-type as well as drive immune anergy. The goal of this study was to develop a multi-T-cell epitope DNA-based vaccine for HIV-1 subtype C and to determine the impact of helminth infection on the immune response to this vaccine. We found that vaccination of naïve mice with the multi-epitope vaccine, designated TD158, induced a strong HIV-1C-specific T-cell immune response, and that the addition of the Igkappa leader sequence to the TD158 vaccine construct significantly increased the frequencies of IFN-gamma secreting CD8+ T cells. However, the TD158 vaccine specific response of mice infected with the human helminth Schistosoma mansoni was significantly suppressed. The impact of schistosome infection on suppressing the virus-specific immune response was the same whether mice were vaccinated with the TD158 vaccine or with the Igkappa enhanced TD158. The results of this study suggest that helminth infection may pose a serious problem for vaccination with the DNA-based HIV-1 vaccine in developing country populations, and that the prevalence of helminth infections in the vaccine cohorts should be taken into account for HIV-1 vaccine trial design.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Vaccines / immunology*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • Female
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Schistosomiasis mansoni / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology
  • Vaccines, DNA / immunology*


  • AIDS Vaccines
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • Vaccines, DNA
  • Interferon-gamma