Scientific publications

Therapeutic vaccination of woodchucks against chronic woodchuck hepatitis virus infection

Oct 1, 1997 | Magazine: Journal of Hepatology

Hervás-Stubbs S, Lasarte JJ, Sarobe P, Prieto J, Cullen J, Roggendorf M, Borrás-Cuesta F.

Therapeutic vaccination is a new approach to treat patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection. We have used the woodchuck model to examine the efficacy and safety of this approach.

Seven woodchucks chronically infected with woodchuck hepatitis virus were immunized with surface antigen from this virus, purified from plasma, in conjunction with a peptide named FIS (encompassing amino acids 106-118: FISEAIIHVLHSR from sperm whale myoglobin), which is recognized by T helper lymphocytes. As controls, two woodchucks chronically infected with woodchuck hepatitis virus were immunized: one with FIS only and the other with surface antigen only.

Co-immunization with surface antigen and FIS, but not with FIS or surface antigen alone, induced anti-surface antibodies in 7/7 immunized woodchucks. In the two woodchucks in which the highest titer of anti-surface antibody was elicited, severe liver damage was observed: one died of fulminant hepatitis and the other became seriously ill with hepatic injury and had to be sacrificed.

Co-immunization of chronically infected woodchucks with surface antigen and a peptide recognized by T helper cells produces a good anti-surface antibody response. However, this strategy needs to be optimized before its implementation in humans.

Although our experiments are not strictly comparable to vaccination of chronically hepatitis B virus-infected patients with recombinant or plasma-derived vaccines, we believe that precautions should be taken to avoid the risk of severe liver injury when immunizing hepatitis B virus carriers.

CITATION  J Hepatol. 1997 Oct;27(4):726-37