Host defenses are profoundly compromised in HIV-infected hosts due to progressive depletion of CD4+ T lymphocytes. Moreover, deficient CD4+ T lymphocytes impair vaccination approaches to prevent opportunistic infection. Therefore, we investigated a CD4+ T cell–independent vaccine approach to a prototypic AIDS-defining infection, Pneumocystis carinii (PC) pneumonia. Here, we demonstrate that bone marrow–derived dendritic cells (DCs) expressing the murine CD40 ligand, when pulsed ex vivo by PC antigen, elicited significant titers of anti-PC IgG in CD4-deficient mice. Vaccinated animals demonstrated significant protection from PC infection, and this protection was the result of an effective humoral response, since adoptive transfer of CD4-depleted splenocytes or serum conferred this protection to CD4-deficient mice. Western blot analysis of PC antigen revealed that DC-vaccinated, CD4-deficient mice predominantly reacted to a 55-kDa PC antigen. These studies show promise for advances in CD4-independent vaccination against HIV-related pathogens.
Mingquan Zheng, Judd E. Shellito, Luis Marrero, Qiu Zhong, Stewart Julian, Peng Ye, Virginia Wallace, Paul Schwarzenberger, Jay K. Kolls