Plant-based anti-HIV-1 strategies: vaccine molecules and antiviral approaches

Expert Rev Vaccines. 2010 Aug;9(8):925-36. doi: 10.1586/erv.10.79.


The introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy has drastically changed HIV infection from an acute, very deadly, to a chronic, long-lasting, mild disease. However, this requires continuous care management, which is difficult to implement worldwide, especially in developing countries. Sky-rocketing costs of HIV-positive subjects and the limited success of preventive recommendations mean that a vaccine is urgently needed, which could be the only effective strategy for the real control of the AIDS pandemic. To be effective, vaccination will need to be accessible, affordable and directed against multiple antigens. Plant-based vaccines, which are easy to produce and administer, and require no cold chain for their heat stability are, in principle, suited to such a strategy. More recently, it has been shown that even highly immunogenic, enveloped plant-based vaccines can be produced at a competitive and more efficient rate than conventional strategies. The high variability of HIV epitopes and the need to stimulate both humoral neutralizing antibodies and cellular immunity suggest the importance of using the plant system: it offers a wide range of possible strategies, from single-epitope to multicomponent vaccines, modulators of the immune response (adjuvants) and preventive molecules (microbicides), either alone or in association with plant-derived monoclonal antibodies, besides the potential use of the latter as therapeutic agents. Furthermore, plant-based anti-HIV strategies can be administered not only parenterally but also by the more convenient and safer oral route, which is a more suitable approach for possible mass vaccination.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • AIDS Vaccines / biosynthesis*
  • AIDS Vaccines / genetics
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / biosynthesis
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / genetics
  • Administration, Oral
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / biosynthesis
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / genetics
  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antiviral Agents / metabolism
  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / genetics
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / metabolism*
  • Technology, Pharmaceutical / methods*


  • AIDS Vaccines
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antiviral Agents