Safety, pharmacokinetics, and immunological activities of multiple intravenous or subcutaneous doses of an anti-HIV monoclonal antibody, VRC01, administered to HIV-uninfected adults: Results of a phase 1 randomized trial

PLoS Med. 2017 Nov 14;14(11):e1002435. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002435. eCollection 2017 Nov.


Background: VRC01 is an HIV-1 CD4 binding site broadly neutralizing antibody (bnAb) that is active against a broad range of HIV-1 primary isolates in vitro and protects against simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) when delivered parenterally to nonhuman primates. It has been shown to be safe and well tolerated after short-term administration in humans; however, its clinical and functional activity after longer-term administration has not been previously assessed.

Methods and findings: HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) 104 was designed to evaluate the safety and tolerability of multiple doses of VRC01 administered either subcutaneously or by intravenous (IV) infusion and to assess the pharmacokinetics and in vitro immunologic activity of the different dosing regimens. Additionally, this study aimed to assess the effect that the human body has on the functional activities of VRC01 as measured by several in vitro assays. Eighty-eight healthy, HIV-uninfected, low-risk participants were enrolled in 6 United States clinical research sites affiliated with the HVTN between September 9, 2014, and July 15, 2015. The median age of enrollees was 27 years (range, 18-50); 52% were White (non-Hispanic), 25% identified as Black (non-Hispanic), 11% were Hispanic, and 11% were non-Hispanic people of diverse origins. Participants were randomized to receive the following: a 40 mg/kg IV VRC01 loading dose followed by five 20 mg/kg IV VRC01 doses every 4 weeks (treatment group 1 [T1], n = 20); eleven 5 mg/kg subcutaneous (SC) VRC01 (treatment group 3 [T3], n = 20); placebo (placebo group 3 [P3], n = 4) doses every 2 weeks; or three 40 mg/kg IV VRC01 doses every 8 weeks (treatment group 2 [T2], n = 20). Treatment groups T4 and T5 (n = 12 each) received three 10 or 30 mg/kg IV VRC01 doses every 8 weeks, respectively. Participants were followed for 32 weeks after their first VRC01 administration and received a total of 249 IV infusions and 208 SC injections, with no serious adverse events, dose-limiting toxicities, nor evidence for anti-VRC01 antibodies observed. Serum VRC01 levels were detected through 12 weeks after final administration in all participants who received all scheduled doses. Mean peak serum VRC01 levels of 1,177 μg/ml (95% CI: 1,033, 1,340) and 420 μg/ml (95% CI: 356, 494) were achieved 1 hour after the IV infusion series of 30 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg doses, respectively. Mean trough levels at week 24 in the IV infusion series of 30 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg doses, respectively, were 16 μg/ml (95% CI: 10, 27) and 6 μg/ml (95% CI: 5, 9) levels, which neutralize a majority of circulating strains in vitro (50% inhibitory concentration [IC50] > 5 μg/ml). Post-infusion/injection serum VRC01 retained expected functional activity (virus neutralization, antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity, phagocytosis, and virion capture). The limitations of this study include the relatively small sample size of each VRC01 administration regimen and missing data from participants who were unable to complete all study visits.

Conclusions: VRC01 administered as either an IV infusion (10-40 mg/kg) given monthly or bimonthly, or as an SC injection (5 mg/kg) every 2 weeks, was found to be safe and well tolerated. In addition to maintaining drug concentrations consistent with neutralization of the majority of tested HIV strains, VRC01 concentrations from participants' sera were found to avidly capture HIV virions and to mediate antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis, suggesting a range of anti-HIV immunological activities, warranting further clinical trials.

Trial registration: Clinical Trials Registration: NCT02165267.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / adverse effects
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / blood
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology*
  • Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • HIV Antibodies / blood
  • HIV Antibodies / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / blood
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV-1 / drug effects
  • HIV-1 / immunology
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies
  • HIV Antibodies
  • VRC01 monoclonal antibody

Associated data