Scientific publications

Protection against woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV) infection by gene gun coimmunization with WHV core and interleukin-12

García-Navarro R, Blanco-Urgoiti B, Berraondo P, Sánchez de la Rosa R, Vales A, Hervás-Stubbs S, Lasarte JJ, Borrás F, Ruiz J, Prieto J.
Division of Hepatology and Gene Therapy, University Clinic and Medical School, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.

Magazine: Journal of Virology

Date: Oct 1, 2001


Woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) are closely similar with respect to genomic organization, host antiviral responses, and pathobiology of the infection.

T-cell immunity against viral nucleocapsid (HBcAg or WHcAg) has been shown to play a critical role in viral clearance and protection against infection. Here we show that vaccination of healthy woodchucks by gene gun bombardment with a plasmid coding for WHcAg (pCw) stimulates proliferation of WHcAg-specific T cells but that these cells do not produce significant levels of gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) upon antigen stimulation. In addition, animals vaccinated with pCw alone were not protected against WHV inoculation. In order to induce a Th1 cytokine response, another group of woodchucks was immunized with pCw together with another plasmid coding for woodchuck interleukin-12 (IL-12).

These animals exhibited WHcAg-specific T-cell proliferation with high IFN-gamma production and were protected against challenge with WHV, showing no viremia or low-level transient viremia after WHV inoculation. In conclusion, gene gun immunization with WHV core generates a non-Th1 type of response which does not protect against experimental infection. However, steering the immune response to a Th1 cytokine profile by IL-12 coadministration achieves protective immunity.

These data demonstrate a crucial role of Th1 responses in the control of hepadnavirus replication and suggest new approaches to inducing protection against HBV infection.

CITATION  J Virol. 2001 Oct;75(19):9068-76

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