Objective: To evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of a human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) recombinant envelope glycoprotein (rgp160) candidate vaccine in humans.
Subjects: Healthy adults (72) who were seronegative for HIV-1 were randomly assigned to one of four groups.
Interventions: The subjects were randomly assigned to receive 40 or 80 µg of rgp160,10 µg of hepatitis B vaccine, or placebo in three doses (on days 0, 30, and 180), with an elective, nonblinded administration of a fourth dose on day 540.
Measurements and Main Results: Neither clinical nor laboratory toxicity was encountered during a follow-up period exceeding 21 months. No effect of immunization was noted on lymphocyte counts, mitogenic responses, or delayed-type hypersensitivity. Serum anti-body responses to HIV envelope proteins detected by Western blot were seen in 30 of 33 subjects (91%; 95% CI, 71% to 97%) receiving either 40- or 80-µg doses of rgp160 and were most commonly of weakly reactive intensity. Responses were first noted by Western blot after the second dose. They markedly increased in frequency after the third dose and declined over the next 12 to 18 months. The administration of a fourth dose resulted in homologous neutralizing activity in sera from 5 of 24 subjects (21%; CI, 7% to 37%) as well as in complement-mediated antibody-dependent enhancement in sera from 6 of 24 subjects (25%; CI, 10% to 42%). Antibody responses were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) less frequently than by Western blot, and these responses persisted for a shorter time.
Conclusions: The administration of rgp160 was well tolerated and safe, resulted in a high rate of antibody response by Western blot after the administration of the third and fourth doses, and generated serum neutralizing activity and complement-mediated antibody-dependent enhancement in some subjects after the fourth dose.