Objective: Maternal-to-child-transmission of HIV-1 infection remains a significant cause of HIV-1 infection despite successful prevention strategies. Testing protective HIV-1 vaccines remains a critical priority. The immunogenicity of ALVAC-HIV vCP1521 (ALVAC) in infants born to HIV-1–infected women in Uganda was evaluated in the first pediatric HIV-1 vaccine study in Africa.
Design: HIV Prevention Trials Network 027 was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase I trial to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of ALVAC in 60 infants born to HIV-1–infected mothers with CD4 counts of >500 cells per microliter, which were randomized to the ALVAC vaccine or placebo. ALVAC-HIV vCP1521 is an attenuated recombinant canarypox virus expressing HIV-1 clade E env, clade B gag, and protease gene products.
Methods: Infants were vaccinated at birth and 4, 8, and 12 weeks of age with ALVAC or placebo. Cellular and humoral immune responses were evaluated using interferon-γ enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot, carboxyfluorescein diacetate succinimidyl ester proliferation, intracellular cytokine staining, and binding and neutralizing antibody assays. Fisher exact test was used to compare positive responses between the study arms.
Results: Low levels of antigen-specific CD4 and CD8 T-cell responses (intracellular cytokine assay) were detected at 24 months (CD4—6/36 vaccine vs. 1/9 placebo; CD8—5/36 vaccine vs. 0/9 placebo) of age. There was a nonsignificant trend toward higher cellular immune response rates in vaccine recipients compared with placebo. There were minimal binding antibody responses and no neutralizing antibodies detected.
Conclusions: HIV-1–exposed infants are capable of generating low levels of cellular immune responses to ALVAC vaccine, similar to responses seen in adults.