Preclinical evaluation of an mRNA HIV vaccine combining rationally selected antigenic sequences and adjuvant signals (HTI-TriMix).

Preclinical evaluation of an mRNA HIV vaccine combining rationally selected antigenic sequences and adjuvant signals (HTI-TriMix).

Online publication: 28/01/2017 Journal: AIDS



The development of a prophylactic vaccine against HIV-1 has so far not been successful. Therefore, attention has shifted more and more toward the development of novel therapeutic vaccines. Here, we evaluated a new mRNA-based therapeutic vaccine against HIV-1-encoding activation signals (TriMix: CD40L + CD70 + caTLR4) combined with rationally selected antigenic sequences [HIVACAT T-cell immunogen (HTI)] sequence: comprises 16 joined fragments from Gag, Pol, Vif, and Nef).


For this purpose, peripheral blood mononuclear cells from HIV-1-infected individuals on cART, lymph node explants from noninfected humans, and splenocytes from immunized mice were collected and several immune functions were measured.


Electroporation of immature monocyte-derived dendritic cells from HIV-infected patients with mRNA encoding HTI + TriMix potently activated dendritic cells which resulted in upregulation of maturation markers and cytokine production and T-cell stimulation, as evidenced by enhanced proliferation and cytokine secretion (IFN-γ). Responses were HIV specific and were predominantly targeted against the sequences included in HTI. These findings were confirmed in human lymph node explants exposed to HTI + TriMix mRNA. Intranodal immunizations with HTI mRNA in a mouse model increased antigen-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte responses. The addition of TriMix further enhanced cytotoxic responses.


Our results suggest that uptake of mRNA, encoding strong activation signals and a potent HIV antigen, confers a T-cell stimulatory capacity to dendritic cells and enhances their ability to stimulate antigen-specific immunity. These findings may pave the way for therapeutic HIV vaccine strategies based on antigen-encoding RNA to specifically target antigen-presenting cells.

Authors: Guardo AC, Joe PT, Miralles L, Bargalló ME, Mothe B, Krasniqi A, Heirman C, García F, Thielemans K, Brander C, Aerts JL, Plana M; iHIVARNA consortium

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