Background: We previously demonstrated that Cervarix(®) elicits antibody responses against vaccine-related types for which clinical efficacy was demonstrated (HPV-31 and -45). Here, we evaluated the kinetics of neutralization titers and avidity of Cervarix(®)-induced antibodies up to 36 months of follow-up in unexposed and HPV infected women.
Methods: A subset of women who participated in the Cost Rica HPV-16/18 Vaccine Trial had pre- and post-vaccination sera tested for antibody responses to HPV-16, -18, -31, -45, and -58 using a pseudovirion-based neutralization assay, and HPV-16 antibody avidity using an HPV-16 L1 VLP (virus-like particle)-based ELISA developed in our laboratory.
Results: In uninfected women, neutralizing antibody titers did not reach significance until after the 3rd dose for HPV-31 (month 12, p=0.009) and HPV-45 (month 12, p=0.003), but then persisted up to month 36 (HPV-31, p=0.01; HPV-45, p=0.002). Individuals infected with HPV-16 or HPV-31 at enrollment developed a significantly higher median antibody response to the corresponding HPV type after one dose, but there was not a difference between median titers after three doses compared to the HPV negative group. Median HPV-16 antibody avidity and titer increased over time up to month 12; however, the HPV-16 avidity did not correlate well with HPV-16 neutralizing antibody titers at each time point examined, except for month 6. The median avidity levels were higher in HPV-16 infected women at month 1 (p=0.04) and lower in HPV-16 infected women at month 12 (p=0.006) compared to the HPV negative women.
Conclusions: The persistence of cross-neutralization titers at month 36 suggests cross-reactive antibody responses are likely to persist long-term and are not influenced by infection status at enrollment. However, the weak correlation between avidity and neutralization titers emphasizes the need for examining avidity in efficacy studies to determine if high avidity antibodies play a critical role in protection against infection.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.