Genetic, epidemiological and experimental evidence suggest that the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is critical in controlling human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. The objectives of this study were to determine whether novel recombinant Mamu MHC constructs would elicit protection against rectal challenge with heterologous simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) strain SF162.P4 in rhesus macaques. Mamu class I and II gene products were linked together with HIV gp140, simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) p27 and heat-shock protein 70 to dextran. The vaccine was administered to two groups, each consisting of nine macaques, either subcutaneously (SC), or rectally and boosted by SC immunization. The controls were untreated or adjuvant-treated animals. Repetitive rectal challenges with up to ten doses of SHIV SF162.P4 showed a significant decrease in the peak and sequential viral RNA concentrations, and three macaques remained uninfected, in the nine SC-immunized animals, compared with infection in all nine controls. Macaques immunized rectally followed by SC boosters showed a less significant decrease in both sequential and peak viral loads compared with the SC-immunized animals, and all were infected following rectal challenge with SHIV SF162.P4. Plasma and mucosal IgG and IgA antibodies to Mamu class I alleles and HIV gp120, as well as to RANTES (regulated upon activation, normal T-cell expressed, and secreted; CCR5) were increased, and showed significant inverse correlations with the peak viral load. These results suggested that allo-immunization with recombinant MHC constructs linked to HIV-SIV antigens merits further investigation in preventing HIV-1 infection.
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