BACKGROUND: Infant responses to vaccines can be impeded by maternal antibodies and immune system immaturity. It is therefore unclear whether human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccination would elicit similar responses in adults and infants.
METHOD: HIV-1 Env-specific antibody responses were evaluated in 2 completed pediatric vaccine trials. In the Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trials Group (PACTG) 230 protocol, infants were vaccinated with 4 doses of Chiron rgp120 with MF59 (n=48), VaxGen rgp120 with aluminum hydroxide (alum; n=49), or placebo (n=19) between 0 and 20 weeks of age. In PACTG 326, infants received 4 doses of ALVAC-HIV-1/AIDSVAX B/B with alum (n=9) or placebo (n=13) between 0 and 12 weeks of age.
RESULTS: By 52 weeks of age, the majority of maternally acquired antibodies had waned and vaccine Env-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) responses in vaccinees were higher than in placebo recipients. Chiron vaccine recipients had higher and more-durable IgG responses than VaxGen vaccine recipients or ALVAC/AIDSVAX vaccinees, with vaccine-elicited IgG responses still detectable in 56% of recipients at 2 years of age. Remarkably, at peak immunogenicity, the concentration of anti-V1V2 IgG, a response associated with a reduced risk of HIV-1 acquisition in the RV144 adult vaccine trial, was 22-fold higher in Chiron vaccine recipients, compared with RV144 vaccinees.
CONCLUSION: As exemplified by the Chiron vaccine regimen, vaccination of infants against HIV-1 can induce robust, durable Env-specific IgG responses, including anti-V1V2 IgG.