Development of an effective vaccine for prevention of infection with HIV would provide an important mechanism for controlling the AIDS epidemic. In the current study, the first clinical trial of a candidate HIV-1 vaccine initiated in the United States, the safety and immunogenicity of escalating doses (10-1,280 micrograms) of recombinant gp160 (rgp160), were evaluated in 138 HIV-negative volunteers. Maximal antibody responses, as evaluated by ELISA, were seen after immunization with three doses of 1,280 micrograms rgp160. Responses to some specific epitopes of HIV gp160, including the second conserved domain and the CD4 binding site, were seen more frequently than after natural infection. Neutralizing antibodies to the homologous HIV strain, but not heterologous strains, were induced by this regimen. Blastogenic responses to rgp160 were seen in most volunteers receiving at least two doses of > or = 20 micrograms. These envelope-specific T cell responses were also seen against heterologous strains of HIV. No major adverse reactions were seen after immunization. Thus, rgp160 is a safe and immunogenic candidate HIV vaccine; further studies are needed to determine if it will provide any clinical benefit in preventing HIV infection.
J A Kovacs, M B Vasudevachari, M Easter, R T Davey, J Falloon, M A Polis, J A Metcalf, N Salzman, M Baseler, G E Smith