Background: Sequential prime-boost or co-administration of HIV vaccine candidates based on an adjuvanted clade B p24, RT, Nef, p17 fusion protein (F4/AS01) plus a non-replicating adenovirus 35 expressing clade A Gag, RT, Int and Nef (Ad35-GRIN) may lead to a unique immune profile, inducing both strong T-cell and antibody responses.
Methods: In a phase 1, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 146 healthy adult volunteers were randomized to one of four regimens: heterologous prime-boost with two doses of F4/AS01E or F4/AS01B followed by Ad35-GRIN; Ad35-GRIN followed by two doses of F4/AS01B; or three co-administrations of Ad35-GRIN and F4/AS01B. T cell and antibody responses were measured.
Results: The vaccines were generally well-tolerated, and did not cause serious adverse events. The response rate, by IFN-γ ELISPOT, was greater when Ad35-GRIN was the priming vaccine and in the co-administration groups. F4/AS01 induced CD4+ T-cells expressing primarily CD40L and IL2 +/- TNF-α, while Ad35-GRIN induced predominantly CD8+ T-cells expressing IFN-γ +/- IL2 or TNF-α. Viral inhibition was induced after Ad35-GRIN vaccination, regardless of the regimen. Strong F4-specific antibody responses were induced. Immune responses persisted at least a year after the last vaccination. The complementary response profiles, characteristic of each vaccine, were both expressed after co-administration.
Conclusion: Co-administration of an adjuvanted protein and an adenovirus vector showed an acceptable safety and reactogenicity profile and resulted in strong, multifunctional and complementary HIV-specific immune responses.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01264445.