Mullins Molecular Retrovirology Lab

  • Department of Microbiology
  • School of Medicine
  • University of Washington
University of Washington/Fred Hutch Center for AIDS Research

Citation Information

Mossman SP, Bex F, Berglund P, Arthos J, O'Neil SP, Riley D, Maul DH, Bruck C, Momin P, Burny A, Fultz PN, Mullins JI, Liljeström P, Hoover EA (1996). Protection against lethal simian immunodeficiency virus SIVsmmPBj14 disease by a recombinant Semliki Forest virus gp160 vaccine and by a gp120 subunit vaccine. Journal of virology, 70(3), 1953-60. (pubmed)


Infection of pigtail macaques with SIVsmmPBj14, biological clone 3 (SIV-PBj14-bc13), produces an acute and usually fatal shock-like syndrome 7 to 14 days after infection. We used this simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) model as a rapid and rigorous challenge to evaluate the efficacy of two SIV Env vaccine strategies. Groups of four pigtail macaques were immunized four times over a 25-week span with either a recombinant Semliki Forest virus expressing the SIV-PBj14 Env gp160 (SFV-SIVgp160) or purified recombinant SIV-PBj14 gp120 (rgp120) in SBN-1 adjuvant. Antibody titers to SIV Env developed in all immunized animals (mean peak titers prior to challenge, 1:1,700 for SFV-SIV gp 160 and 1:10,500 for rgp120), but neither neutralizing antibodies nor SIV-specific T-cell proliferative responses were detectable in any of the vaccinees. All macaques were challenged with a 100% infectious, 75% fatal dose of SIV-PBj14-bc13 at week 26. Three of four control animals died of acute SIV-PBj14 syndrome on days 12 and 13. By contrast, all four SFV-SIVgp160-immunized animals and three of the four rgp120-immunized animals were protected from lethal disease. While all virus-challenged animals became infected, symptoms of the SIV-PBj14 syndrome were more severe in controls than in vaccinees. Mean virus titers in plasma at 13 days postchallenge were approximately 10-fold lower in vaccinated than control animals. However, there was no apparent correlation between survival and levels of peripheral blood mononuclear cell-associated culturable virus, provirus load, or any antiviral immunologic parameter examined. The results indicate that while immunization with SFV-SIVgp160 and rgp120 did not protect against virus infection, these Env vaccines did lower the virus load in plasma and protect against the lethal SIV-PBj14 challenge.