Immunization with subunit human immunodeficiency virus vaccine generates stronger T helper cell immunity than natural infection

Mario Clerici, Carol O. Tacket, Charles S. Via, Daniel R. Lucey, Satish C. Muluk, Robert A. Zajac, R. Neal Boswell, Jay A. Berzofsky, Gene M. Shearer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Healthy, human immunodeficiency virus seronegative (HIV-) volunteers were multiply immunized with a recombinant gp160 (rgp160) candidate acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) vaccine. Peripheral blood lymphocytes from volunteers immunized with 40 μg or with 80 μg (two volunteers per group) of rgp160, as well as from control donors, were tested for T helper (Th) cell function either prior to immunization, 8 to 12 months after the third immunization, or 2 to 5 months after the fourth immunization. The Th cell functional tests included antigen-induced in vitro interleukin 2 (IL 2) production and proliferation in response to influenza A virus (FLU) and to four synthetic peptides of HIV gp120 and gp160, previously demonstrated to be recognized by T cells from HIV naturally infected patients. Our results demonstrate the following: (a) immunization of HIV- individuals with rgp160 results in IL 2 production and T cell proliferation in response to HIV determinants; (b) boosting with rgp160 enhances Th function; (c) HIV-specific Th function is up to 100-fold greater in the multiply immunized volunteers than that observed in asymptomatic, HIV-infected individuals; and (d) multiple immunization with rgp160 does not impair Th, function to a non-HIV antigen such as influenza A virus. These results indicate that immunization of uninfected individuals with an HIV subunit vaccine results in much stronger Th, cell immunity than does natural infection and suggests that vaccination against HIV may be possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1345-1349
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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