Delayed vaginal SHIV infection in VRC01 and anti-α4β7 treated rhesus macaques

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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VRC01 protects macaques from vaginal SHIV infection after a single high-dose challenge. Infusion of a simianized anti-α4β7 mAb (Rh-α4β7) just prior to, and during repeated vaginal exposures to SIVmac251 partially protected macaques from vaginal SIV infection and rescued CD4+ T cells. To investigate the impact of combining VRC01 and Rh-α4β7 on SHIV infection, 3 groups of macaques were treated with a suboptimal dosing of VRC01 alone or in combination with Rh-α4β7 or with control antibodies prior to the initiation of weekly vaginal exposures to a high dose (1000 TCID50) of SHIVAD8-EO. The combination Rh-α4β7-VRC01 significantly delayed SHIVAD8-EO vaginal infection. Following infection, VRC01-Rh-α4β7-treated macaques maintained higher CD4+ T cell counts and exhibited lower rectal SIV-DNA loads compared to controls. Interestingly, VRC01-Rh-α4β7-treated macaques had fewer IL-17-producing cells in the blood and the gut during the acute phase of infection. Moreover, higher T cell responses to the V2-loop of the SHIVAD8-EO envelope in the VRC01-Rh-α4β7 group inversely correlated with set point viremia. The combination of suboptimal amounts of VRC01 and Rh-α4β7 delayed infection, altered antiviral immune responses and minimized CD4+ T cell loss. Further exploration of the effect of combining bNAbs with Rh-α4β7 on SIV/HIV infection and antiviral immune responses is warranted and may lead to novel preventive and therapeutic strategies.