The HIV epidemics in infants and adolescent women are linked. Young women of childbearing age are at high risk for HIV infection and, due to poor HIV testing rates and low adherence to antiretroviral therapy, are at high risk for mother-to-infant transmission. We hypothesize that HIV vaccine regimens initiated in early life would provide the necessary time frame to induce mature and highly functional Env-specific antibody responses that could potentially also protect against HIV acquisition later in life. The present study was designed to test two vaccine regimens, a clade C HIV Env protein vaccine (Env only) alone or combined with a modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vector expressing HIV Env (MVA/Env) for the induction and persistence of Env-specific antibody responses in an infant nonhuman primate model. Vaccination was initiated within the first week of life, with booster immunizations at weeks 6, 12, and 32. We demonstrate that both vaccine strategies were able to elicit durable Env-specific antibody responses that were enhanced by a late boost in infancy. Furthermore, we confirmed earlier data that intramuscular administration of the Env protein with the Toll-like receptor 7/8 (TLR7/8)-based adjuvant 3M-052 in stable emulsion (3M-052-SE) induced higher Env-specific antibody responses than vaccination with Env adjuvanted in Span85-Tween 80-squalene (STS) tested in a previous study. These results support the concept of early vaccination as a means to induce durable immune responses that may prevent HIV infection in adolescence at the onset of sexual debut.IMPORTANCE The majority of new HIV-1 infections occur in young adults, with adolescent women being 3 times more likely to acquire HIV than young men. Implementation of HIV prevention strategies has been less successful in this age group; thus, a vaccine given prior to adolescence remains a high priority. We propose that instead of starting HIV vaccination during adolescence, an HIV vaccine regimen initiated in early infancy, aligned with the well-accepted pediatric vaccine schedule and followed with booster immunizations, will provide an alternative means to reduce HIV acquisition in adolescence. Importantly, the long window of time between the first infant vaccine dose and the adolescence vaccine dose will allow for the maturation of highly functional HIV Env-specific antibody responses. Our study provides evidence that early life vaccination induces durable Env-specific plasma IgG responses that can be boosted to further improve the quality of the antibody response.
Keywords: HIV; adjuvant; memory antibody responses; pediatric vaccination.
Copyright © 2020 Curtis et al.