Mucosal immunity is deemed crucial to control sexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Herein we report the efficacy of a mucosal HIV vaccine strategy comprising intranasal (IN) vaccination with a cocktail of live recombinant human rhinoviruses (HRVs) encoding overlapping fragments of HIV Gag and full length Tat (rHRV-Gag/Tat) followed by intradermal (ID) vaccination with DNA vaccines encoding HIV Gag and Tat (pVAX-Gag-Tat). This heterologous prime-boost strategy will be referred to hereafter as rHRV-DNA. As a control, IN vaccination with wild type (wt)-HRV-A1 followed by a single ID dose of pVAX (wt-HRV-A1/pVAX vaccination) was included. rHRV-DNA vaccination elicited superior multi-functional CD8 + T cell responses in lymphocytes harvested from mesenteric lymph nodes and spleens, and higher titres of Tat-specific antibodies in blood and vaginal lavages, and reduced the viral load more effectively after challenge with EcoHIV, a murine HIV challenge model, in peritoneal macrophages, splenocytes and blood compared compared with wt-HRV-A1/pVAX vaccination or administration of 3 ID doses of pVAX-Gag-Tat (3X pVAX-Gag-Tat vaccination). These data provide the first evidence that a rHRV-DNA vaccination regimen can induce HIV-specific immune responses in the gut, vaginal mucosa and systemically, and supports further testing of this regimen in the development of an effective mucosally-targeted HIV-1 vaccine.
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