Hepatitis C virus: why do we need a vaccine to prevent a curable persistent infection?
ABSTRACT: Chronic hepatitis C virus infection is now curable by antiviral therapy but the global burden of liver disease is unlikely to diminish without a vaccine to prevent transmission. The objective of HCV vaccination is not to induce sterilizing immunity, but instead to prevent persistent infection. One vaccine that incorporates only non-structural HCV proteins is now in phase I/II efficacy trials to test the novel concept that T cell priming alone is sufficient for protection. Evidence also suggests that antibodies contribute to infection resolution. Vaccines comprised of recombinant envelope glycoproteins targeted by neutralizing antibodies have been assessed in humans for immunogenicity. Here, we discuss current concepts in protective immunity and divergent approaches to vaccination against a highly mutable RNA virus.
Project description:Conventional influenza vaccines aim at the induction of virus-neutralizing antibodies that provide with sterilizing immunity. However, influenza vaccination often confers protection from disease but not from infection. The impact of infection-permissive vaccination on the immune response elicited by subsequent influenza virus infection is not well-understood. Here, we investigated to what extent infection-permissive immunity, in contrast to virus-neutralizing immunity, provided by a trivalent inactivated virus vaccine (TIV) modulates disease and virus-induced host immune responses after sublethal vaccine-matching H1N1 infection in a mouse model. More than one TIV vaccination was needed to induce a serum HI titer and provide sterilizing immunity upon homologous virus infection. However, single TIV administration provided infection-permissive immunity, characterized by lower viral lung titers and faster recovery. Despite the presence of replicating virus, single TIV vaccination prevented induction of pro-inflammatory cyto- and chemokines, alveolar macrophage depletion as well as the establishment of lung-resident B and T cells after infection. To investigate virus infection-induced cross-protective heterosubtypic immune responses in vaccinated and unvaccinated animals, mice were re-infected with a lethal dose of H3N2 virus 4 weeks after H1N1 infection. Single TIV vaccination did not prevent H1N1 virus infection-induced heterosubtypic cross-protection, but shifted the mechanism of cross-protection from the cellular to the humoral branch of the immune system. These results suggest that suboptimal vaccination with conventional influenza vaccines may still positively modulate disease outcome after influenza virus infection, while promoting humoral heterosubtypic immunity after virus infection.
Project description:While about a quarter of individuals clear their primary hepatitis C (HCV) infections spontaneously, clearance (spontaneous or treatment-induced) does not confer sterilizing immunity against a future infection. Since successful treatment does not prevent future infections either, an effective vaccine is highly desirable in preventing HCV (re)infection. However, development of an effective vaccine has been complicated by the diversity of HCV genotypes, and complexities in HCV immunological responses. Smaller studies on humans and chimpanzees reported seemingly opposing results regarding cross-neutralizing antibodies. We report a lack of cross-genotype immunity in the largest cohort of people to date. In the adjusted Cox proportional hazards model, reinfection with a heterologous HCV genotype (adjusted Hazard Ratio [aHR]: 0.45, 95% CI: 0.25-0.84) was associated with a 55% lower likelihood of re-clearance. Among those who cleared their first infection spontaneously, the likelihood of re-clearance was 49% lower (aHR: 0.51, 95% CI: 0.27-0.94) when reinfected with a heterologous HCV genotype. These findings indicate that immunity against a particular HCV genotype does not offer expanded immunity to protect against subsequent infections with a different HCV genotype. A prophylactic HCV vaccine boosted with multiple HCV genotype may offer a broader and more effective protection.
Project description:Despite the recent development of safe and highly effective direct-acting antivirals, hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection remains a significant health problem. In 2016, the World Health Organization set out to reduce the rate of new HCV infections by 90% by 2030. Still, global control of the virus does not seem to be achievable in the absence of an effective vaccine. Current approaches to the development of a vaccine against HCV include the production of recombinant proteins, synthetic peptides, DNA vaccines, virus-like particles, and viral vectors expressing various antigens. In this review, we focus on the development of vaccines targeting the humoral immune response against HCV based on the cumulative evidence supporting the important role of neutralizing antibodies in protection against HCV infection. The main targets of HCV-specific neutralizing antibodies are the glycoproteins E1 and E2. Recent advances in the knowledge of HCV glycoprotein structure and their epitopes, as well as the possibility of getting detailed information on the human antibody repertoire generated by the infection, will allow rational structure-based antigen design to target specific germline antibodies. Although obtaining a vaccine capable of inducing sterilizing immunity will be a difficult task, a vaccine that prevents chronic hepatitis C infections, a more realistic goal in the short term, would have a considerable health impact.
Project description:The major route of hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission in the United States is injection drug use. We hypothesized that if an HCV vaccine were available, vaccination could affect HCV transmission among people who inject drugs by reducing HCV titers after viral exposure without necessarily achieving sterilizing immunity. To investigate this possibility, we developed a mathematical model to determine transmission probabilities relative to the HCV RNA titers of needle/syringe-sharing donors. We simulated sharing of two types of syringes fitted with needles that retain either large or small amounts of fluid after expulsion. Using previously published viral kinetics data from both naïve subjects infected with HCV and reinfected individuals who had previously cleared an HCV infection, we estimated transmission risk between pairs of serodiscordant injecting drug users, accounting for syringe type, rinsing, and sharing frequency. We calculated that the risk of HCV transmission through syringe sharing increased ~10-fold as viral titers (log10 IU/ml) increased ~25-fold. Cumulative analyses showed that, assuming sharing episodes every 7 days, the mean transmission risk over the first 6 months was >90% between two people sharing syringes when one had an HCV RNA titer >5 log10 IU/ml. For those with preexisting immunity that rapidly controlled HCV, the cumulative risk decreased to 1 to 25% depending on HCV titer and syringe type. Our modeling approach demonstrates that, even with transient viral replication after exposure during injection drug use, HCV transmission among people sharing syringes could be reduced through vaccination if an HCV vaccine were available.
Project description:BACKGROUND & AIMS:Infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) can be prevented by vaccination with HB surface (HBs) antigen, which induces HBs-specific antibodies and T cells. However, the duration of vaccine-induced protective immunity is poorly defined for health care workers who were vaccinated as adults. METHODS:We investigated the immune mechanisms (antibody and T-cell responses) of long-term protection by the HBV vaccine in 90 health care workers with or without occupational exposure to HBV, 10-28 years after vaccination. RESULTS:Fifty-nine of 90 health care workers (65%) had levels of antibodies to HBs antigen above the cut-off (>12 mIU/mL) and 30 of 90 (33%) had HBs-specific T cells that produced interferon-gamma. Titers of antibodies to HBs antigen correlated with numbers of HBs-specific interferon-gamma-producing T cells, but not with time after vaccination. Although occupational exposure to HBV after vaccination did not induce antibodies to the HBV core protein (HBcore), the standard biomarker for HBV infection, CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells against HBcore and polymerase antigens were detected. Similar numbers of HBcore- and polymerase-specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells were detected in health care workers with occupational exposure to HBV and in patients who acquired immunity via HBV infection. Most of the HBcore- and polymerase-specific T cells were CD45RO(+)CCR7(-)CD127(-) effector memory cells in exposed health care workers and in patients with acquired immunity. In contrast, most of the vaccine-induced HBs-specific T cells were CD45RO(-)CCR7(-)CD127(-) terminally differentiated cells. CONCLUSIONS:HBs antigen vaccine-induced immunity protects against future infection but does not provide sterilizing immunity, as evidenced by HBcore- and polymerase-specific CD8(+) T cells in vaccinated health care workers with occupational exposure to HBV. The presence of HBcore- and HBV polymerase-specific T-cell responses is a more sensitive indicator of HBV exposure than detection of HBcore-specific antibodies.
Project description:An effective therapeutic vaccine for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, as an adjunct to newly developed directly-acting antivirals (DAA), or for the prevention of reinfection, would significantly reduce the global burden of disease associated with chronic HCV infection. A recombinant chimpanzee adenoviral (ChAd3) vector and a modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA), encoding the non-structural proteins of HCV (NSmut), used in a heterologous prime/boost regimen induced multi-specific, high-magnitude, durable HCV-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses in healthy volunteers, and was more immunogenic than a heterologous Ad regimen. We now assess the immunogenicity of this vaccine regimen in HCV infected patients (including patients with a low viral load suppressed with interferon/ribavirin therapy), determine T-cell cross-reactivity to endogenous virus, and compare immunogenicity with that observed previously in both healthy volunteers and in HCV infected patients vaccinated with the heterologous Ad regimen. Vaccination of HCV infected patients with ChAd3-NSmut/MVA-NSmut was well tolerated. Vaccine-induced HCV-specific T-cell responses were detected in 8/12 patients; however, CD4+ T-cell responses were rarely detected, and the overall magnitude of HCV-specific T-cell responses was markedly reduced when compared to vaccinated healthy volunteers. Furthermore, HCV-specific cells had a distinct partially-functional phenotype (lower expression of activation markers, granzyme B, and TNFα production, weaker in vitro proliferation, and higher Tim3 expression, with comparable Tbet and Eomes expression) compared to healthy volunteers. Robust anti-vector T-cells and antibodies were induced, showing that there is no global defect in immunity. The level of viremia at the time of vaccination did not correlate with the magnitude of the vaccine-induced T-cell response. Full-length, next-generation sequencing of the circulating virus demonstrated that T-cells were only induced by vaccination when there was a sequence mismatch between the autologous virus and the vaccine immunogen. However, these T-cells were not cross-reactive with the endogenous viral variant epitopes. Conversely, when there was complete homology between the immunogen and circulating virus at a given epitope T-cells were not induced. T-cell induction following vaccination had no significant impact on HCV viral load. In vitro T-cell culture experiments identified the presence of T-cells at baseline that could be expanded by vaccination; thus, HCV-specific T-cells may have been expanded from pre-existing low-level memory T-cell populations that had been exposed to HCV antigens during natural infection, explaining the partial T-cell dysfunction. In conclusion, vaccination with ChAd3-NSmut and MVA-NSmut prime/boost, a potent vaccine regimen previously optimized in healthy volunteers was unable to reconstitute HCV-specific T-cell immunity in HCV infected patients. This highlights the major challenge of overcoming T-cell exhaustion in the context of persistent antigen exposure.
Project description:The current experiments use the Friend retrovirus model to demonstrate that vaccine-primed B cells are essential for sterilizing immunity, and the results indicate that the requisite function of these cells is the production of virus-neutralizing antibodies rather than priming or reactivation of T cells. B cell-deficient mice were poorly protected by vaccination, but adoptive transfer experiments showed that the T cells from B cell-deficient mice were primed as well as those from wild-type mice. Furthermore, passive transfer of virus-neutralizing antibodies completely compensated for B cell deficiency. The presence of virus-neutralizing antibodies at the time of infection was crucial for vaccine efficacy. Interestingly, virus-neutralizing antibodies worked synergistically with vaccine-primed T cells to provide a level of protection many orders of magnitude greater than either antibodies or immune T cells alone. Nonneutralizing antibodies also contributed to protection and acted cooperatively with neutralizing antibodies to reduce infection levels. These results emphasize the importance of inducing both T cell responses and virus-neutralizing antibody responses for effective retroviral vaccine protection.
Project description:Direct acting antivirals can cure chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection but whether they will reduce global liver disease burden is uncertain. Most chronic infections are undiagnosed and transmission has increased in recent years. The first trial of a preventive vaccine is now underway in humans at risk for HCV infection. It will test the novel hypothesis that T cell-mediated immunity alone can prevent persistent HCV infection. Another vaccine that elicits neutralizing antibodies is at an advanced stage of development. Attention is turning to the understudied question of whether direct acting antiviral (DAA) cure of chronic infection restores HCV immunity. If not, it will be important to determine if preventive vaccines can also act therapeutically to reverse immune dysfunction and protect from re-infection.
Project description:The recent outbreak of Zika virus (ZIKV) has emerged as a global health concern. ZIKV can persist in human semen and be transmitted by sexual contact, as well as by mosquitoes, as seen for classical arboviruses. We along with others have previously demonstrated that ZIKV infection leads to testis damage and infertility in mouse models. So far, no prophylactics or therapeutics are available; therefore, vaccine development is urgently demanded. Recombinant chimpanzee adenovirus has been explored as the preferred vaccine vector for many pathogens due to the low preexisting immunity against the vector among the human population. Here, we developed a ZIKV vaccine based on recombinant chimpanzee adenovirus type 7 (AdC7) expressing ZIKV M/E glycoproteins. A single vaccination of AdC7-M/E was sufficient to elicit potent neutralizing antibodies and protective immunity against ZIKV in both immunocompetent and immunodeficient mice. Moreover, vaccinated mice rapidly developed neutralizing antibody with high titers within 1 week postvaccination, and the elicited antiserum could cross-neutralize heterologous ZIKV strains. Additionally, ZIKV M- and E-specific T cell responses were robustly induced by AdC7-M/E. Moreover, one-dose inoculation of AdC7-M/E conferred mouse sterilizing immunity to eliminate viremia and viral burden in tissues against ZIKV challenge. Further investigations showed that vaccination with AdC7-M/E completely protected against ZIKV-induced testicular damage. These data demonstrate that AdC7-M/E is highly effective and represents a promising vaccine candidate for ZIKV control.IMPORTANCE Zika virus (ZIKV) is a pathogenic flavivirus that causes severe clinical consequences, including congenital malformations in fetuses and Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults. Vaccine development is a high priority for ZIKV control. In this study, to avoid preexisting anti-vector immunity in humans, a rare serotype chimpanzee adenovirus (AdC7) expressing the ZIKV M/E glycoproteins was used for ZIKV vaccine development. Impressively, AdC7-M/E exhibited exceptional performance as a ZIKV vaccine, as follows: (i) protective efficacy by a single vaccination, (ii) rapid development of a robust humoral response, (iii) durable immune responses, (iv) robust T cell responses, and (v) sterilizing immunity achieved by a single vaccination. These advantages of AdC7-M/E strongly support its potential application as a promising ZIKV vaccine in the clinic.
Project description:Hepatitis C virus (HCV) persistently infects approximately 71 million people globally. To prevent infection a vaccine which elicits neutralizing antibodies against the virus envelope proteins (E1/E2) which are required for entry into host cells is desirable. DNA vaccines are cost-effective to manufacture globally and despite recent landmark studies highlighting the therapeutic efficacy of DNA vaccines in humans against cervical cancer, DNA vaccines encoding E1/E2 developed thus far are poorly immunogenic. We now report a novel and highly immunogenic DNA vaccination strategy that incorporates secreted E1 and E2 (sE1 and sE2) into oligomers by fusion with the oligomerization domain of the C4b-binding protein, IMX313P. The FDA approved plasmid, pVax, was used to encode sE1, sE2, or sE1E2 with or without IMX313P, and intradermal prime-boost vaccination studies in BALB/c mice showed that vaccines encoding IMX313P were the most effective in eliciting humoral and cell-mediated immunity against the envelope proteins. Further boosting with recombinant E1E2 proteins but not DNA nor virus-like particles (VLPs) expressing E1E2 increased the immunogenicity of the DNA prime-boost regimen. Nevertheless, the antibodies generated by the homologous DNA prime-boost vaccinations more effectively inhibited the binding of VLPs to target cells and neutralized transduction with HCV pseudoparticles (HCVpp) derived from different genotypes including genotypes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. This report provides the first evidence that IMX313P can be used as an adjuvant for E1/E2-based DNA vaccines and represents a translatable approach for the development of a HCV DNA vaccine.