Human immunodeficiency virus infection is a worldwide health problem and a protective vaccine is desperately needed to control the AIDS pandemics. To address this concern, we previously constructed single-cycle replicable (SCR) HIV-1 virions, which completely maintained the antigenic structures of HIV-1. Herein, to optimize a vaccination strategy, we studied the immunogenicity of produced SCR virions and adjuvant-formulated HIV-1 virus-like particles (VLPs) in homologous and heterologous prime-boosting regimens. Accordingly, BALB/c mice received three doses of immunogens in 3-week intervals and their immune responses were evaluated using ELISA, cytokine and IFN-γ ELISpot assays. These analyses not only indicated the superiority of SCR prime-VLP boosting for strong induction of specific IFN-γ producing cells, but also showed the capability of this strategy over the others for better stimulation of humoral response, which was evidenced with the detection of highest titer of total IgG against HIV ENV glycoprotein. Furthermore, determination of IgG subclasses and IFN-γ/IL4 secretion ratio in cultured splenocytes demonstrated the efficient augmentation of mixed responses with the dominancy of Th1 immunity following SCR/VLP immunization strategy. Our results additionally pointed towards the applicability of Montanide ISA 720 + CpG as a potent Th1-directing adjuvant mixture. Overall, this study suggests SCR prime-VLP boosting as a promising approach in HIV vaccine development.
Keywords: HIV, single-cycle replicable, VLP, montanide ISA720, BALB/c immunization, vaccine, ELISA, SCR Virions, Electron Microscopy, Cytokine
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