Data from the first phase III HIV vaccine trial does not indicate efficacy regarding the production of neutralizing antibodies and prevention of HIV infection. The induction of a potent HIV-specific cellular response through therapeutic vaccination is now thought to be a more attainable goal through HIV DNA vaccines. This review will summarize the immunologic rationale behind the development of vaccines that elicit cellular immune responses, and will then illustrate examples of DNA-based preventive and therapeutic vaccine strategies, which have recently been evaluated in pre-clinical animal studies as well as some human clinical trials; they include: (i) cytokine-augmented DNA vaccines; (ii) CpG enriched plasmid DNAs; (iii) viral vectors and prime-boost strategies; (iv) lipopeptide vaccines; (v) ex vivo dendritic cell-based, and (vii) dendritic cell-targeted vaccines. This set of data will be carefully reviewed in order to understand how this know-how has been or can be used to design meaningful “next-generation” therapeutic vaccines.
Keywords: hiv dna vaccine, cellular immune response, cytokines
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