Costimulatory molecules play a central role in the development of cellular immunity. Understanding how costimulatory pathways can be directed to positively influence the immune response may be critical for the generation of an effective HIV vaccine. Here, we evaluated the ability of intravenous administration of a blocking monoclonal antibody (mAb) directed against the negative costimulatory molecule CTLA-4, and an agonist mAb directed against the positive costimulatory molecule 4-1BB, either alone or in combination, to augment intramuscular SIV DNA immunizations. We then tested the ability these of these responses to impact a high-dose SIVmac251 challenge. Following immunization, the groups infused with the anti-4-1BB mAb exhibited enhanced IFN-γ responses compared to the DNA vaccine only group. Interestingly, although CTLA-4 blockade alone did not enhance IFN-γ responses it did increase the proliferative capacity of the CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. The combination of both mAbs enhanced the magnitude of the polyfunctional CD8+ T cell response. Following challenge, the group that received both mAbs exhibited a significant, ~2.0 log, decrease in plasma viral load compared to the naïve group the included complete suppression of viral load in some animals. Furthermore, the use of the CTLA-4 blocking antibody resulted in significantly higher viral loads during chronic infection compared to animals that received the 4-1BB mAb, likely due to the higher CD4+ T cell proliferative responses which were driven by this adjuvant following immunization. These novel studies show that these adjuvants induce differential modulation of immune responses, which have dramatically different consequences for control of SIV replication, suggesting important implications for HIV vaccine development.
Hirao, L.A.; Hokey, D.A.; Morrow, M.P.; Jure-Kunkel, M.N.; Weiner, D.B. Immune Modulation through 4-1BB Enhances SIV Vaccine Protection in Non-Human Primates against SIVmac251 Challenge. PLoS ONE (2011) 6 (9) e24250. [DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024250]