[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) are thought to contribute to viral clearance and liver cell injury during hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Using a strategy involving the in vitro stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) with HBV-derived synthetic peptides containing HLA-A2.1, -A31, and -Aw68 binding motifs, we have previously described CTL responses to several epitopes within the HBV nucleocapsid and envelope antigens in patients with acute hepatitis. In this study we define six HLA-A2-restricted CTL epitopes located in the highly conserved reverse transcriptase and RNase H domains of the viral polymerase protein, and we show that the CTL response to polymerase is polyclonal, multispecific, and mediated by CD8+ T cells in patients with acute viral hepatitis, but that it is not detectable in patients with chronic HBV infection or uninfected healthy blood donors. Importantly, the peptide-activated CTL recognize target cells that express endogenously synthesized polymerase protein, suggesting that these peptides represent naturally processed viral epitopes. DNA sequence analysis of the viruses in patients who did not respond to peptide stimulation indicated that CTL nonresponsiveness was not due to infection by viral variants that differed in sequences from the synthetic peptides. CTL specific for one of the epitopes were unable to recognize several naturally occurring viral variants, except at high peptide concentration, underlining the HBV subtype specificity of this response. Furthermore, CTL responses against polymerase, core, and envelope epitopes were detectable for more than a year after complete clinical recovery and seroconversion, reflecting either the persistence of trace amounts of virus or the presence of long lived memory CTL in the absence of viral antigen. Finally, we demonstrated that wild type viral DNA and RNA can persist indefinitely, in trace quantities, in the serum and PBMC after complete clinical and serological recovery, despite a concomitant, vigorous, and sustained polyclonal CTL response. Since viral persistence is not due to escape from CTL recognition under these conditions, the data suggest that HBV may retreat into immunologically privileged sites from which it can seed the circulation and reach CTL-inaccessible tissues, thereby maintaining the CTL response in apparently cured individuals and, perhaps, prolonging the liver disease in patients with chronic hepatitis.
Journal of Experimental Medicine 04/1995; 181(3):1047-58. · 13.21 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Few alternative treatments are available for those patients with autoimmune chronic active hepatitis who fail to respond to the conventional treatment of corticosteroids. Such patients have a poor prognosis and frequently require liver transplantation. We report a patient with autoimmune hepatitis who failed treatment with corticosteroids and azathioprine. He responded to treatment with cyclosporine but relapsed with its discontinuation; reinstitution of the cyclosporine again induced remission. Cyclosporine appears to be an effective alternative treatment in patients with steroid-resistant, autoimmune chronic active hepatitis; its use may preclude or delay liver transplantation.
Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 01/1994; 17(4):317-20. · 3.20 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Inasmuch as the hepatitis B virus (HBV) is not directly cytopathic for the infected hepatocyte, it is generally presumed that viral clearance and liver cell injury during viral hepatitis are due to a CTL response to HBV encoded Ag presented by HLA class I molecules. We have previously examined the peripheral blood CTL response to two HBV nucleocapsid epitopes in patients with acute and chronic viral hepatitis, one of which is restricted by HLA-A2, whereas the other is dually restricted by HLA-A31 and Aw68. In this study, we defined the HLA-A2-restricted CTL response to the hepatitis B surface Ag (HBsAg) by using a panel of HBsAg-derived synthetic peptides containing the ideal HLA-A2.1 binding motif (-L------V). Several novel aspects of HBV immunobiology and pathogenesis are evident from this study. First, the peripheral blood CTL response to HBV-encoded Ag is remarkably polyclonal and multispecific in most patients with acute hepatitis. Indeed, HLA-A2-restricted CTL specific for as many as four envelope epitopes and one nucleocapsid epitope were found to be present simultaneously in individual patients with acute viral hepatitis. Second, HBV-specific CTL are not detectable in the peripheral blood in a minority of patients with acute hepatitis, nor have we detected a CTL response in any of the patients with chronic hepatitis that we have studied thus far. Although the cellular and molecular basis for CTL nonresponse remains to be determined, the data suggest that it may contribute to viral persistence. Third, the diversity and the specificity of the CTL response is determined in part by the coding sequence of the viral genome present in each infected patient. Indeed, the apparent nonresponse of some acutely infected patients to at least one HBsAg-specific CTL epitope actually reflects infection by a viral variant that contains a critical substitution in one of the anchor residues within the epitope. Finally, at a fundamental level, the data suggest that the presence of the HLA-A2.1-binding motif in a peptide may not be sufficient for binding; and the capacity of a peptide to bind the class I molecule does not guarantee that it will be immunogenic.
The Journal of Immunology 06/1993; 150(10):4659-71. · 5.52 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have recently developed the technology to identify and characterize the human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I-restricted, CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) response to hepatitis B virus (HBV)-encoded antigens in patients with acute viral hepatitis. CTL are expanded in vitro by stimulation with HBV-derived synthetic peptides and selected by restimulation with a panel of HLA-matched stable transfectants that express the corresponding HBV protein. We have recently reported the existence of an HLA-A2-restricted, CD8+ CTL response to an epitope located between residues 18 and 27 of the HBV nucleocapsid core antigen (HBcAg). We now report the discovery of a CTL epitope located between HBcAg residues 141 and 151 that completely overlaps a critical domain in the viral nucleocapsid protein that is essential for its nuclear localization and genome packaging functions as well as processing of the precore protein. The CTL response to this epitope is dually restricted by the HLA-A31 and HLA-Aw68 alleles, which, unexpectedly, appear to use a common binding motif based on the results of alanine substitution and competition analysis, and the binding properties of these two alleles predicted from their known primary sequence, and from the three-dimensional structure of HLA-Aw68. We have also demonstrated that the HBV-specific CTL response to this epitope is polyclonal during acute viral hepatitis, since these two restriction elements can present the HBcAg 141-151 epitope to independent CTL clones derived from a single patient; and that the CTL response is multispecific, since HLA-A2-restricted and HLA-Aw68-restricted CTL responses to HBcAg 18-27 and HBcAg 141-151, respectively, have been identified to coexist in another patient. The foregoing argue against the emergence of CTL escape mutants as a significant problem during HBV infection, especially at this locus, where mutations might be incompatible with viral replication. Finally, our data suggest an association between the HBV-specific CTL response and viral clearance, and they have implications for the design of immunotherapeutic strategies to terminate HBV infection in chronically infected patients.
Journal of Experimental Medicine 04/1993; 177(3):751-62. · 13.21 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sera from 483 patients at high (group 1, n = 313) and lower (group 2, n = 170) risk for exposure to hepatitis C were tested for antibodies to hepatitis C using first-generation (c100-3) and second-generation enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and four-antigen recombinant immunoblot assay. The second-generation enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and nitrocellulose-based immunoblot assay differ from c100-3-based systems in the addition of expression products from the NS3/NS4 (c33c, c200) and putative nucleocapsid (c22-3) region of the hepatitis C genome. In group 1, the sensitivity of detection of hepatitis C antibodies was 45%, 55% and 46% by the first- and second-generation enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and recombinant immunoblot assay, respectively. In group 2, antibodies were detected by each test system in 26%, 32% and 7% of patients, respectively. Most sera (99%) reactive with the first-generation enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay were reactive with the second-generation enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (in group 1, 89% of these specimens demonstrated reactivity to at least one antigen with the immunoblot assay, compared with only 31% in group 2). An additional 12% (group 1) and 6% (group 2) of specimens demonstrated reactivity with the second-generation enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay only (of these, 75% [group 1] and 9% [group 2] demonstrated reactivity to at least one antigen with the immunoblot assay). Ninety-eight percent of specimens not reactive with both enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test systems were also nonreactive by recombinant immunoblot assay.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)