Lauren A Hirao

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States

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Publications (20)96.59 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Chronic immune activation despite long-term therapy poses an obstacle to immune recovery in HIV infection. The role of antigen presenting cells (APCs) in chronic immune activation during HIV infection remains to be fully determined. APCs, the frontline of immune defense against pathogens, are capable of distinguishing between pathogens and non-pathogenic, commensal bacteria. We hypothesized that HIV infection induces dysfunction in APC immune recognition and response to some commensal bacteria and that this may promote chronic immune activation. Therefore we examined APC inflammatory cytokine responses to commensal lactobacilli. We found that APCs from HIV-infected patients produced an enhanced inflammatory response to Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1 as compared to APCs from healthy, HIV-negative controls. Increased APC expression of TLR2 and CD36, signaling through p38-MAPK, and decreased expression of MAP kinase phosphatase-1 (MKP-1) in HIV infection was associated with this heightened immune response. Our findings suggest that chronic HIV infection enhances the responsiveness of APCs to commensal lactobacilli, a mechanism that may partly contribute to chronic immune activation.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(8):e72789. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: One limitation in the development of an improved cellular response needed for an effective HIV-vaccine is the inability to induce robust effector T-cells capable of suppressing a heterologous challenge. To improve cellular immune responses, we examined the ability of an optimized DNA vaccine to boost the cellular immune responses induced by a highly immunogenic Ad5 prime. Five Chinese rhesus macaques received pVax encoding consensus (con) gag/pol/env intramuscularly (IM) with electroporation followed by the Merck Ad5 gag/pol/nef vaccine. A second group of five animals were vaccinated with Merck Ad5 gag/pol/nef followed by pVax gag/pol/env. One year following vaccination, Ad5-prime DNA-boosted monkeys and four unvaccinated controls received an intrarectal challenge with 1000 ID50 SIV(mac)251. The quality and magnitude of the T-cell response was analyzed by ELISpot and polyfunctional flow cytometry. We observed that an Ad5-prime DNA-boost resulted in significantly elevated SIV-specific T-cell responses even compared with animals receiving a DNA-prime Ad5-boost. Ad5 prime DNA boosted animals were capable of suppressing a pathogenic SIV(mac)251 challenge. Peak control correlated with the expansion of HLA-DR(+) CD8(+) T-cells two weeks post-infection. These data illustrate that high optimization of a DNA vaccine can drive of immune responses primed by a robust vector system. This previously unachievable feature of these newly optimized DNAs warrants future studies of this strategy that may circumvent issues of serology associated with viral vector prime-boost systems.
    Vaccine 03/2012; 30(21):3202-8. · 3.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present current findings about two subsets of CD4+ T cells that play an important part in the initial host response to infection with the HIV type 1: those producing IL-17 (Th17 cells) and those with immunosuppressive function (CD25+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells or T-reg). The role of these cells in the control of viral infection and immune activation as well as in the prevention of immune deficiency in HIV-infected elite controllers will be examined. We will also discuss the use of the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected macaque model of AIDS to study the interplay between these cells and lentiviral infection in vivo. Study of Th17 cells in humans and nonhuman primates (NHPs) has shown that depletion of these cells is associated with the dissemination of microbial products from the infected gut, increased systemic immune activation, and disease progression. Most impressively, having a smaller Th17-cell compartment has been found to predict these outcomes. T-reg have been associated with the reduced antiviral T-cell responses but not with the suppression of generalized T cell activation. Both cell subsets influence innate immune responses and, in doing so, may shape the inflammatory milieu of the host at infection. Interactions between Th17 cells, T-reg, and cells of the innate immune system influence the course of HIV and SIV infection from its earliest stages, even before the appearance of adaptive immunity. Such interactions may be pivotal for elite control over disease progression.
    Current opinion in HIV and AIDS 03/2011; 6(3):221-7. · 4.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Costimulatory molecules play a central role in the development of cellular immunity. Understanding how costimulatory pathways can be directed to positively influence the immune response may be critical for the generation of an effective HIV vaccine. Here, we evaluated the ability of intravenous administration of a blocking monoclonal antibody (mAb) directed against the negative costimulatory molecule CTLA-4, and an agonist mAb directed against the positive costimulatory molecule 4-1BB, either alone or in combination, to augment intramuscular SIV DNA immunizations. We then tested the ability these of these responses to impact a high-dose SIVmac251 challenge. Following immunization, the groups infused with the anti-4-1BB mAb exhibited enhanced IFN-γ responses compared to the DNA vaccine only group. Interestingly, although CTLA-4 blockade alone did not enhance IFN-γ responses it did increase the proliferative capacity of the CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells. The combination of both mAbs enhanced the magnitude of the polyfunctional CD8(+) T cell response. Following challenge, the group that received both mAbs exhibited a significant, ∼2.0 log, decrease in plasma viral load compared to the naïve group the included complete suppression of viral load in some animals. Furthermore, the use of the CTLA-4 blocking antibody resulted in significantly higher viral loads during chronic infection compared to animals that received the 4-1BB mAb, likely due to the higher CD4(+) T cell proliferative responses which were driven by this adjuvant following immunization. These novel studies show that these adjuvants induce differential modulation of immune responses, which have dramatically different consequences for control of SIV replication, suggesting important implications for HIV vaccine development.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(9):e24250. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: While HIV-1-specific cellular immunity is thought to be critical for the suppression of viral replication, the correlates of protection have not yet been determined. Rhesus macaques (RM) are an important animal model for the study and development of vaccines against HIV/AIDS. Our laboratory has helped to develop and study DNA-based vaccines in which recent technological advances, including genetic optimization and in vivo electroporation (EP), have helped to dramatically boost their immunogenicity. In this study, RMs were immunized with a DNA vaccine including individual plasmids encoding SIV gag, env, and pol alone, or in combination with a molecular adjuvant, plasmid DNA expressing the chemokine ligand 5 (RANTES), followed by EP. Along with standard immunological assays, flow-based activation analysis without ex vivo restimulation and high-throughput gene expression analysis was performed. Strong cellular immunity was induced by vaccination which was supported by all assays including PBMC microarray analysis that identified the up-regulation of 563 gene sequences including those involved in interferon signaling. Furthermore, 699 gene sequences were differentially regulated in these groups at peak viremia following SIVmac251 challenge. We observed that the RANTES-adjuvanted animals were significantly better at suppressing viral replication during chronic infection and exhibited a distinct pattern of gene expression which included immune cell-trafficking and cell cycle genes. Furthermore, a greater percentage of vaccine-induced central memory CD8+ T-cells capable of an activated phenotype were detected in these animals as measured by activation analysis. Thus, co-immunization with the RANTES molecular adjuvant followed by EP led to the generation of cellular immunity that was transcriptionally distinct and had a greater protective efficacy than its DNA alone counterpart. Furthermore, activation analysis and high-throughput gene expression data may provide better insight into mechanisms of viral control than may be observed using standard immunological assays.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(6):e19681. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The threat of a smallpox-based bioterrorist event or a human monkeypox outbreak has heightened the importance of new, safe vaccine approaches for these pathogens to complement older poxviral vaccine platforms. As poxviruses are large, complex viruses, they present technological challenges for simple recombinant vaccine development where a multicomponent mixtures of vaccine antigens are likely important in protection. We report that a synthetic, multivalent, highly concentrated, DNA vaccine delivered by a minimally invasive, novel skin electroporation microarray can drive polyvalent immunity in macaques, and offers protection from a highly pathogenic monkeypox challenge. Such a diverse, high-titer antibody response produced against 8 different DNA-encoded antigens delivered simultaneously in microvolumes has not been previously described. These studies represent a significant improvement in the efficiency of the DNA vaccine platform, resulting in immune responses that mimic live viral infections, and would likely have relevance for vaccine design against complex human and animal pathogens.
    The Journal of Infectious Diseases 01/2011; 203(1):95-102. · 5.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: DNA vaccines have undergone important enhancements in their design, formulation, and delivery process. Past literature supports that DNA vaccines are not as immunogenic in nonhuman primates as live vector systems. The most potent recombinant vector system for induction of cellular immune responses in macaques and humans is adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5), an important benchmark for new vaccine development. Here, we performed a head-to-head evaluation of the Merck Ad5 SIV vaccine and an optimized electroporation (EP) delivered SIV DNA vaccine in macaques. Animals receiving the Ad5 vaccine were immunized three times, whereas the DNA-vaccinated animals were immunized up to four times based on optimized protocols. We observed significant differences in the quantity of IFNgamma responses by enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot (ELISpot), greater proliferative capacity of CD8(+) T cells, and increased polyfunctionality of both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells in the DNA-vaccinated group. Importantly, Ad5 immunizations failed to boost following the first immunization, whereas DNA responses were continually boosted with all four immunizations demonstrating a major advantage of these improved DNA vaccines. These optimized DNA vaccines induce very different immune phenotypes than traditional Ad5 vaccines, suggesting that they could play an important role in vaccine research and development.
    Molecular Therapy 08/2010; 18(8):1568-76. · 7.04 Impact Factor
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    Retrovirology 01/2009; · 5.66 Impact Factor
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    Retrovirology 01/2009; · 5.66 Impact Factor
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    Retrovirology 01/2009; · 5.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previously, we examined the effects of in vivo CTLA-4 blockade using a fully human monoclonal antibody as a part of a DNA vaccination regimen in cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis). We observed that while the antibody had little effect on the IFN-gamma ELISpot response, CTLA-4 blockade enhanced antigen-specific cellular proliferation in both CD4(+) and CD8(+)T-cell compartments. We examine the specific effects of CTLA-4 blockade on memory T-cell compartments following the third immunization and 10 months following a fourth immunization, during the memory phase of the immune response. CLTA-4 blockade enhanced CD4(+) and CD8(+) central memory (CD28(hi), CD95(hi)) T-cell responses as well as a short-lived CD8(+) effector (CD28(lo), CD95(hi)) T-cell response. These data suggest differing effects of CTLA-4 blockade on CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells with implications on the clinical use of anti-CTLA-4 antibodies for enhancement of vaccine strategies or treatment of human disease.
    Journal of Medical Primatology 01/2009; 37 Suppl 2:62-8. · 1.11 Impact Factor
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    Retrovirology 01/2009; 6. · 5.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic viral infection is characterized by the functional impairment of virus-specific T-cell responses. Recent evidence has suggested that the inhibitory receptor programmed death 1 (PD-1) is specifically upregulated on antigen-specific T cells during various chronic viral infections. Indeed, it has been reported that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-specific T cells express elevated levels of PD-1 and that this expression correlates with the viral load and inversely with CD4(+) T-cell counts. More importantly, antibody blockade of the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway was sufficient to both increase and stimulate virus-specific T-cell proliferation and cytokine production. However, the mechanisms that mediate HIV-induced PD-1 upregulation are not known. Here, we provide evidence that the HIV type 1 (HIV-1) accessory protein Nef can transcriptionally induce the expression of PD-1 during infection in vitro. Nef-induced PD-1 upregulation requires its proline-rich motif and the activation of the downstream kinase p38. Further, inhibition of Nef activity by p38 MAPK inhibitor effectively blocked PD-1 upregulation, suggesting that p38 MAPK activation is an important initiating event in Nef-mediated PD-1 expression in HIV-1-infected cells. These data demonstrate an important signaling event of Nef in HIV-1 pathogenesis.
    Journal of Virology 10/2008; 82(23):11536-44. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: DNA vaccines are a promising technology. Historically, however, the ability of DNA vaccines to induce high response rates and strong immune responses, especially antibody responses, in non-human primates and human clinical trials has proven suboptimal. Here, we performed a pilot study in rhesus macaques to evaluate whether we could improve the immunogenicity of DNA vaccines through the use of adjuvant technology and improved delivery systems. The study consisted of four groups of animals that received: DNA by intramuscular (IM) injection, DNA with plasmid-encoded IL-12 by IM injection, DNA by IM injection with in vivo electroporation (EP), and DNA with IL-12 by IM EP. Each group was immunized three times with optimized HIV gag and env constructs. Vaccine immunogenicity was assessed by IFNgamma ELISpot, CFSE proliferation, polyfunctional flow cytometry, and antibody ELISA. Similar to previous studies, use of IL-12 as an adjuvant increased the gag and env-specific cellular responses. The use of EP to enhance plasmid delivery resulted in dramatically higher cellular as well as humoral responses. Interestingly, the use of EP to administer the DNA and IL-12 adjuvant combination resulted in the induction of higher, more efficient responses such that a 10-fold increase in antigen-specific IFNgamma(+) cells compared to IM DNA immunization was observed after a single immunization. In addition to increases in the magnitude of IFNgamma production in the initial and memory responses, the combined approach resulted in enhancements in the proliferative capacity of antigen-specific CD8(+) T cells and the amount of polyfunctional cells capable of producing IL-2 and TNFalpha in addition to IFNgamma. These data suggest that adjuvant and improved delivery methods may be able to overcome previous immunogenicity limitations in DNA vaccine technology.
    Vaccine 07/2008; 26(25):3112-20. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent data supports that increased expression of PD-1, a negative regulator of immune function, is associated with T cell exhaustion during chronic viral infection. However, PD-1 expression during acute infection and vaccination has not been studied in great detail in primates. Here, we examine PD-1 expression on CD3(+) T cells following DNA vaccination or lentiviral infection of macaques. Ex vivo peptide stimulation of PBMC from DNA-vaccinated uninfected macaques revealed a temporal increase in PD-1 expression in proliferating antigen-specific CD8(+) T cells. Following the initial increase, PD-1 expression steadily declined as proliferation continued, with a concomitant increase in IFN-gamma secretion. Subsequent examination of PD-1 expression on T cells from uninfected and lentivirus-infected non-vaccinated macaques revealed a significant increase in PD-1 expression with lentiviral infection, consistent with previous reports. PD-1 expression was highest on cells with activated memory and effector phenotypes. Despite their decreased telomere length, PD-1(hi) T cell populations do not appear to have statistically significant uncapped telomeres, typically indicative of proliferative exhaustion, suggesting a different mechanistic regulation of proliferation by PD-1. Our data indicate that PD-1 expression is increased as a result of T cell activation during a primary immune response as well as during persistent immune activation in macaques.
    European Journal of Immunology 06/2008; 38(5):1435-45. · 4.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Enhancing the expression of DNA vaccines requires that specific conditions of delivery are optimized. We describe experiments using adaptive constant-current electroporation (EP) in mice and pigs examining parameters such as target muscle, delay between plasmid delivery and onset of EP pulses and DNA vaccine formulation; our studies show that concentrated formulations result in better expression and immunogenicity. Furthermore, various conditions of EP that limit the amount of muscle damage were measured. The results of these studies will help to advance the success of DNA vaccines in animals into success in human clinical trials.
    Vaccine 05/2008; 26(40):5230-7. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In an effort to improve DNA vaccine immune potency electroporation has emerged as a method of delivery of plasmids to target tissues. However, few studies have examined the use of this technology to deliver plasmid vaccines to the skin. Here we studied the effect of electroporation on DNA vaccine potency and gene delivery using skin as a target tissue in larger animal species. Using a pig model, we determined that high plasmid concentrations resulted in improved gene expression for plasmid GFP delivered by the intradermal/subcutaneous (ID/SQ) route. In a macaque model, we observed higher cellular and humoral responses to an HIV DNA vaccine, which included plasmid-encoded IL-12, with electroporation compared to ID/SQ injection alone. The induced responses were TH1 mediated. These results support that skin electroporation may have importance as an immunization approach in larger animal models.
    Vaccine 02/2008; 26(3):440-8. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies have examined smallpox antigen-expressing plasmids in mice and non-human primates with limited efficacy. Recent studies showed that the electroporation technique can be used to dramatically increase plasmid uptake into the target tissues (e.g., skeletal muscle) when compared to simple injection. Consequently, the expression levels for the encoded transgene are orders of magnitude higher, likely improving potency. In a pilot experiment, uptake and distribution of plasmids with and without electroporation have been analyzed in the rabbit. Electroporated muscle showed a better distribution and uptake. We evaluated immune responses to smallpox antigens, after direct intramuscular plasmid injection followed by constant-current electroporation in groups of rabbits (n=3/group). The plasmids were administered either individually or in combination and their relative responses analyzed. Group 1 rabbits were immunized with a combination of eight plasmids expressing varying smallpox antigens (A13L, A14L, A27L, A33L, B5R, D8L, H3L, L1R). Group 2 rabbits were immunized with a combination of four different antigens (A27L, B5R, D8L, L1R). The final group received an immunization with an individual plasmid expressing a single antigen (B5R). All plasmids were administered via a single IM injection of 800 μg (100 μg each antigen and/or empty vector up to 800 μg per injection) into semimembranosus muscle followed by electroporation using the ADViSYS constant-current EKD system, at 0.6 Amps, 3 pulses, 52 ms/pulse, 1 sec between pulses. Rabbits were immunized twice, at Study d 0 and at Study d 64. Sera were collected from rabbits at different time points, including on Day 85 and used to determine antibody responses by protein ELISA. Antibody responses were improved by electroporation in both immunized groups irrespective of the number of antigens delivered. A specific ELISpot assay for TNF is being developed to determine T-cell response rates in rabbits following DNA immunization. Rabbit PBMCs collected 2 weeks after first immunization were stimulated for 24h with 15mer peptides that span the entire length of the A27L gene. Immunization followed by electroporation induced improved antigen specific T-cell responses against A27L. Thus, the combination immunization strategy using smallpox antigens and constant-current electroporation appears important for driving better humoral and cellular-based responses in a relevant animal model.
    Molecular Therapy 01/2006; 13. · 7.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although DNA vaccines have proven to be highly immunogenic in small animal models, the same level of immunogenicity has yet to be seen in non-human primate models and more importantly in human clinical trials. Antibody responses induced by DNA immunization have been particularly weaker than expected based on the results from the mouse system. There are a number of approaches being pursued to address these problems, including the delivery of plasmids with electroporation. Numerous studies have outlined the effectiveness of electroporation for enhancing the uptake, and consequently, the expression of plasmids encoding antigens and therapeutic proteins. However, electroporation using constant-voltage does not measure tissue resistance and can cause damage in the surrounding tissue, resulting in tissue damage, inflammation and loss of plasmid expression. Improving the electroporation parameters is an important goal for improving the performance of DNA vaccine technology. We performed a pilot study in mice to compare the antibody responses to plasmid encoding smallpox antigens following intramuscular (IM) injection of 100 μg of plasmid alone versus IM injection followed by constant-current electroporation. Plasmid delivery with constant-current electroporation resulted in two- to five-fold stronger antibody responses as compared to IM injection alone and at DNA concentrations that were 20x less than the dose given by IM injection alone. Based on these results, we began a non-human primate study in which we examined the immunogenicity of HIV gag and env DNA cassettes using constant-current electroporation (n=3/group) compared to IM injection alone (n=2/group). Non-human primates were electroporated using the ADViSYS constant-current EKD system, at 0.6 Amps, 3 pulses, 52 msec/pulse, 1 sec between pulses. After only a single immunization, all three monkeys that had received the HIV antigens with constant-current electroporation had positive HIV gag and env ELISpot results. Only one of the two monkeys that had received the plasmids by IM injection alone made a positive response to HIV env. The average HIV gag ELISpot count for the electroporated group was 200 spots per million PBMCs. This is significant considering that the average ELISpot response for HIV gag is 300 spots per million PBMCs following 3 IM injections. The average HIV env ELISpot count was approximately 200 spots per million PBMCs. Cellular and humoral assays were also conducted. These results support that plasmid delivery with constant-current electroporation appears to increase the immune potency of DNA vaccines in non-human primates. These studies have important implications for human DNA vaccine development for both HIV vaccines as well as other vaccine platforms, including smallpox vaccines.
    Molecular Therapy 01/2006; 13. · 7.04 Impact Factor
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    Retrovirology 01/2006; · 5.66 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

296 Citations
96.59 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2006–2012
    • University of Pennsylvania
      • Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
      Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • 2008–2011
    • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
      • Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
      Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • 2009
    • University of Washington Seattle
      • Department of Microbiology
      Seattle, Washington, United States