We compared the HIV-1-specific cellular and humoral immune responses elicited in rhesus macaques immunized with two poxvirus vectors (NYVAC and ALVAC) expressing the same HIV-1 antigens from clade C, Env gp140 as a trimeric cell-released protein and a Gag-Pol-Nef polyprotein as Gag-induced virus-like particles (VLPs) (referred to as NYVAC-C and ALVAC-C). The immunization protocol consisted of two doses of the corresponding poxvirus vector plus two doses of a combination of the poxvirus vector and a purified HIV-1 gp120 protein from clade C. This immunogenicity profile was also compared to that elicited by vaccine regimens consisting of two doses of the ALVAC vector expressing HIV-1 antigens from clades B/E (ALVAC-vCP1521) plus two doses of a combination of ALVAC-vCP1521 and HIV-1 gp120 protein from clades B/E (similar to the RV144 trial regimen) or clade C. The results showed that immunization of macaques with NYVAC-C stimulated at different times more potent HIV-1-specific CD4(+) T-cell responses and induced a trend toward higher-magnitude HIV-1-specific CD8(+) T-cell immune responses than did ALVAC-C. Furthermore, NYVAC-C induced a trend toward higher levels of binding IgG antibodies against clade C HIV-1 gp140, gp120, or murine leukemia virus (MuLV) gp70-scaffolded V1/V2 and toward best cross-clade-binding IgG responses against HIV-1 gp140 from clades A, B, and group M consensus, than did ALVAC-C. Of the linear binding IgG responses, most were directed against the V3 loop in all immunization groups. Additionally, NYVAC-C and ALVAC-C also induced similar levels of HIV-1-neutralizing antibodies and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) responses. Interestingly, binding IgA antibody levels against HIV-1 gp120 or MuLV gp70-scaffolded V1/V2 were absent or very low in all immunization groups. Overall, these results provide a comprehensive survey of the immunogenicity of NYVAC versus ALVAC expressing HIV-1 antigens in nonhuman primates and indicate that NYVAC may represent an alternative candidate to ALVAC in the development of a future HIV-1 vaccine.
Importance: The finding of a safe and effective HIV/AIDS vaccine immunogen is one of the main research priorities. Here, we generated two poxvirus-based HIV vaccine candidates (NYVAC and ALVAC vectors) expressing the same clade C HIV-1 antigens in separate vectors, and we analyzed in nonhuman primates their immunogenicity profiles. The results showed that immunization with NYVAC-C induced a trend toward higher HIV-1-specific cellular and humoral immune responses than did ALVAC-C, indicating that this new NYVAC vector could be a novel optimized HIV/AIDS vaccine candidate for human clinical trials.
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