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Volume 8 Supplement 2

Frontiers of Retrovirology 2011

Open Access

Stimulation of antiviral cellular immune responses by therapeutic vaccination of HIV-1-infected patients with dendritic cells transfected with gag, tat, rev and nef mRNA

  • Ellen Van Gulck1,
  • Viggo F Van Tendeloo2, 3,
  • Erika Vlieghe4,
  • Marc Vekemans4,
  • Ann Van de Velde2, 3,
  • Evelien Smits2, 3,
  • Sébastien Anguilie2, 3,
  • Nathalie Cools2, 3,
  • Barbara Stein2, 3,
  • Griet Nijs2, 3,
  • Herman Goossens2,
  • Liesbet Mertens4,
  • Winni De Haes1,
  • Céline Merlin1,
  • Derek Atkinson1,
  • Johnsson Wong5,
  • Eric Florence4,
  • Guido Vanham1, 6 and
  • Zwi N Berneman2, 3
Retrovirology20118(Suppl 2):P76

Published: 3 October 2011


Human Immunodeficiency VirusDendritic CellHuman Immunodeficiency Virus ReplicationDendritic Cell VaccineVaccine Preparation


In an attempt to raise protective antiviral immunity, dendritic cell (DC) immunotherapy was evaluated in 6 adults infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 and stable under antiretroviral therapy (HAART).


Autologous monocyte-derived DC electroporated with mRNA encoding Gag and TatRevNef fusion protein were injected 4 times at 4 weeks interval, while patients remained on HAART. Feasibility, safety and immunogenicity were investigated.


DC vaccine preparation and administration was successful in all patients and only mild adverse events such as skin reactions were seen. DC vaccination induced immune responses that have been reported to be related to control of HIV-1 replication. There was a significant increase post-as compared to pre-DC vaccination, in magnitude - in particular to Gag – and breadth of HIV-1-specific interferon (IFN)-γ response and T-cell proliferation. Breadth of IFN-γ response and T-cell proliferation were correlated with both CD4+ and CD8+ polyfunctional T-cell responses. Importantly, DC vaccination induced or increased the capacity of autologous CD8+ T-cells to suppress superinfection of CD4+ T-cells with the vaccine-related IIIB virus and to a lesser extent with other HIV-1 strains. This CD8+ T-cell-mediated HIV-1-inhibitory activity was correlated with increased breadth of Gag-specific IFN-γ response, indicative of improved control of HIV replication. These features are indicative of improved virus control.


Therapeutic immunization of patients stable under HAART with DC electroporated with mRNA encoding HIV-1 antigens is safe and was successful in raising antiviral cellular immune responses, including effector CD8+T-cells with inhibitory activity towards infection of CD4+T-cells with a vaccine-homologous HIV strain.

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Biomedical Sciences, Division of Microbiology, Virology Unit, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium
Vaccine and Infectious Disease Institute, Faculty of Medicine, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
Center for Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine (CCRG) and Division of Hematology, Antwerp University Hospital (UZA), Edegem, Belgium
Department of Clinical Sciences, Medical Service, HIV and STD Unit, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium
Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical Sciences and Veterinary Sciences, University of Antwerp, Antwerp and Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Free University of Brussels (VUB), Brussels, Belgium


© Van Gulck et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2011

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.