Induction of a long-term immunological memory, which can expand and defend the host upon pathogen encounter, is the “holy grail” of vaccinology. Here, using a sensitive cultured IFN-γ ELISPOT assay, we show that 50% (15 out of 30) of healthy, HIV-1/2-uninfected volunteers who received pTHr.HIVA DNA prime-modified vaccinia virus Ankara. HIVA boost vaccine regimen 1 to 3 1/2 years ago had detectable HIV-1-specific T-cell responses. These T cells, predominantly of the CD4+ subtype, could proliferate and produce multiple cytokines in response to in vitro peptide stimulation. Peptide mapping studies showed that the vaccine-induced CD4+ T cells were mostly directed toward epitopes targeted in HIV-1-infected individuals. In addition, we used the same assay to re-evaluate 51 volunteers from past vaccine trial IAVI-006 and corrected the previously reported 10% of vaccine responders to 50%. Thus, we confirmed that cultured assays are a valuable tool for studying T-cell memory. These results are discussed in the context of the current state-of-affairs of the HIV-1 vaccine field.
European Journal of Immunology (2009) 39 (4) 975-985 [DOI: 10.1002/eji.200839167]