Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection of rhesus macaques is a valuable animal model for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 vaccine development. Our laboratory recently described the immunogenicity and limited efficacy of a vif-deleted SIVmac239 proviral DNA (SIV/CMVΔvif) vaccine. The current report characterizes immunogenicity and efficacy for the SIV/CMVΔvif proviral DNA vaccine when co-inoculated with an optimized rhesus interleukin (rIL)-15 expression plasmid. Macaques co-inoculated with rIL-15 and SIV/CMVΔvif proviral plasmids showed significantly improved SIV-specific CD8 T cell immunity characterized by increased IFN-γ ELISPOT and polyfunctional CD8 T cell responses. Furthermore, these animals demonstrated a sustained suppression of plasma virus loads after multiple low dose vaginal challenges with pathogenic SIVmac251. Importantly, SIV-specific cellular responses were greater in immunized animals compared to unvaccinated controls during the initial 12 weeks after challenge. Taken together, these findings support the use of IL-15 as an adjuvant in prophylactic anti-HIV vaccine strategies.
- DNA vaccine
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