HBsAg-redirected T cells exhibit antiviral activity in HBV-infected human liver chimeric mice.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection remains incurable. Although HBsAg-specific chimeric antigen receptor (HBsAg-CAR) T cells have been generated, they have not been tested in animal models with authentic HBV infection. METHODS:We generated a novel CAR targeting HBsAg and evaluated its ability to recognize HBV+ cell lines and HBsAg particles in vitro. In vivo, we tested whether human HBsAg-CAR T cells would have efficacy against HBV-infected hepatocytes in human liver chimeric mice. RESULTS:HBsAg-CAR T cells recognized HBV-positive cell lines and HBsAg particles in vitro as judged by cytokine production. However, HBsAg-CAR T cells did not kill HBV-positive cell lines in cytotoxicity assays. Adoptive transfer of HBsAg-CAR T cells into HBV-infected humanized mice resulted in accumulation within the liver and a significant decrease in plasma HBsAg and HBV-DNA levels compared with control mice. Notably, the fraction of HBV core-positive hepatocytes among total human hepatocytes was greatly reduced after HBsAg-CAR T cell treatment, pointing to noncytopathic viral clearance. In agreement, changes in surrogate human plasma albumin levels were not significantly different between treatment and control groups. CONCLUSIONS:HBsAg-CAR T cells have anti-HBV activity in an authentic preclinical HBV infection model. Our results warrant further preclinical exploration of HBsAg-CAR T cells as immunotherapy for HBV.
Project description:Current therapies against hepatitis B virus (HBV) do not reliably cure chronic infection, necessitating new therapeutic approaches. The T cell response can clear HBV during acute infection, and the adoptive transfer of antiviral T cells during bone marrow transplantation can cure patients of chronic HBV infection. To redirect T cells to HBV-infected hepatocytes, we delivered plasmids encoding bispecific antibodies directed against the viral surface antigen (HBsAg) and CD3, expressed on almost all T cells, directly into the liver using hydrodynamic tail vein injection. We found a significant reduction in HBV-driven reporter gene expression (184-fold) in a mouse model of acute infection, which was 30-fold lower than an antibody only recognizing HBsAg. While bispecific antibodies triggered, in part, antigen-independent T cell activation, antibody production within hepatocytes was non-cytotoxic. We next tested the bispecific antibodies in a different HBV mouse model, which closely mimics the transcriptional template for HBV, covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA). We found that the antiviral effect was noncytopathic, mediating a 495-fold reduction in HBsAg levels at day 4. At day 33, bispecific antibody-treated mice exhibited 35-fold higher host HBsAg immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody production versus untreated groups. Thus, gene therapy with HBsAg/CD3-bispecific antibodies represents a promising therapeutic strategy for patients with HBV.
Project description:In patient serum, HBsAg particles can outnumber HBV particles by 1000:1 or higher. To explore the interactions between HBsAg and hepatocytes, concentrating on the possible effects of persistently secreting HBsAg on the functions of host cells, we have used the S gene of a full-length HBV isolate derived from an HBsAg chronic carrier (code No. C8, GenBank accession No. AF461363), cloned into pCMV vector to transfect HepG2 cells. G418 resistant clones secreting HBsAg were selected to establish permanent cell lines, and control clones transfected only with the vector were passaged as well to serve as controls. Cells were separately collected on the fourth and the eighth day after seeding, and gene expression profiles of both cell clones were studied and compared by microarray. Totally, 340 genes were suppressed and 673 genes were induced by the expression of HBsAg on the fourth day, whereas 219 genes were down-regulated and 683 genes were up-regulated on the eighth day. Arbitrarily, changes of genes detected on both 4th and 8th day cultures were selected for further study. Many cellular functions such as immune response, xenobiotic metabolism, ubiquitin pathway, transcription regulation were affected by HBsAg expression, indicating a close association between HBsAg and host cells. Keywords: interaction, HBsAg expression, hepatocyte function Overall design: HBsAg particles are composed of viral envelope proteins and outnumber HBV virions by 1000:1 or even higher. This unique characteristic of HBV remains to be one of the challenges in basic and clinical aspects of viral hepatitis B. In this study, we want to explore the interactions between HBsAg and hepatocytes, concentrating on the effects of persistently secreting HBsAg on host cell functions.
Project description:In patient serum, HBsAg particles can outnumber HBV particles by 1000:1 or higher. To explore the interactions between HBsAg and hepatocytes, concentrating on the possible effects of persistently secreting HBsAg on the functions of host cells, we have used the S gene of a full-length HBV isolate derived from an HBsAg chronic carrier (code No. C8, GenBank accession No. AF461363), cloned into pCMV vector to transfect HepG2 cells. G418 resistant clones secreting HBsAg were selected to establish permanent cell lines, and control clones transfected only with the vector were passaged as well to serve as controls. Cells were separately collected on the fourth and the eighth day after seeding, and gene expression profiles of both cell clones were studied and compared by microarray. Totally, 340 genes were suppressed and 673 genes were induced by the expression of HBsAg on the fourth day, whereas 219 genes were down-regulated and 683 genes were up-regulated on the eighth day. Arbitrarily, changes of genes detected on both 4th and 8th day cultures were selected for further study. Many cellular functions such as immune response, xenobiotic metabolism, ubiquitin pathway, transcription regulation were affected by HBsAg expression, indicating a close association between HBsAg and host cells. Experiment Overall Design: HBsAg particles are composed of viral envelope proteins and outnumber HBV virions by 1000:1 or even higher. This unique characteristic of HBV remains to be one of the challenges in basic and clinical aspects of viral hepatitis B. Experiment Overall Design: In this study, we want to explore the interactions between HBsAg and hepatocytes, concentrating on the effects of persistently secreting HBsAg on host cell functions.
Project description:Ground glass hepatocytes (GGHs), a histological hallmark of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, contain excessive hepatitis surface antigen (HBsAg) in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), which is linked to unfolded protein response (UPR). The mechanism by which HBV activates UPR has not been fully defined. To investigate this, HepG2-NTCP cells and primary human hepatocytes (PHHs) were either infected with HBV or transduced with adenoviral vectors expressing replication-competent HBV genome or individual HBV genes. UPR markers were evaluated by qPCR, Western blotting, and immunofluorescence. Apoptosis and cell viability were measured by Caspase-3/7 and ATPlite assay respectively. We found that UPR markers were induced by the overexpression of HBsAg in HepG2-NTCP cells and PHHs. Elevation of UPR-induced genes showed a dose-dependent correlation with HBsAg levels. In HBV-infected livers, GGHs also demonstrated excessive accumulation of HBsAg associated with increased BIP/GRP78 staining, a marker of UPR. Prolonged activation of UPR by HBsAg overexpression induced signs of apoptosis. Overexpression of HBsAg can induce ER stress through protein kinase RNA-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) pathway in vitro, and may be linked to the appearance of GGHs. The activation of UPR by HBsAg may sensitize hepatocytes to cell death and result in possible subsequent cellular changes leading to a premalignant phenotype.
Project description:Strong tolerance to hepatitis B virus (HBV) surface antigens limits the therapeutic effect of the conventional hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) vaccination in both preclinical animal models and patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) infection. In contrast, we observed that clinical CHB patients presented less immune tolerance to the preS1 domain of HBV large surface antigen. To study whether targeting the weak tolerance of the preS1 region could improve therapy gain, we explored vaccination with the long peptide of preS1 domain for HBV virions clearance. Our study showed that this preS1-polypeptide rather than HBsAg vaccination induced robust immune responses in HBV carrier mice. The anti-preS1 rapidly cleared HBV virions in vivo and blocked HBV infection to hepatocytes in vitro. Intriguingly, vaccination of preS1-polypeptide even reduced the tolerized status of HBsAg, opening a therapeutic window for the host to respond to the HBsAg vaccine. A sequential administration of antigenically distinct preS1-polypeptide and HBsAg vaccines in HBV carrier mice could finally induce HBsAg/hepatitis B surface antibody serological conversion and clear chronic HBV infection in carrier mice. CONCLUSION:These results suggest that preS1 can function as a therapeutic vaccine for the control of CHB. (Hepatology 2017;66:1067-1082).
Project description:Nucleot(s)ide analogues and peginterferon (PEG-IFN) treatment are the only approved therapies for chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. However, complete eradication of the virus, as indicated by persistent loss of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), is rare among treated patients. This is due to long-term persistence of the HBV genome in infected hepatocytes in the form of covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA). In this study, we investigated whether administration of a large dose of a nucleoside analogue in combination with PEG-IFN can achieve long-term loss of HBsAg in human hepatocyte chimeric mice. Mice were treated with a high dose of entecavir and/or PEG-IFN for 6 weeks. High-dose combination therapy with both drugs resulted in persistently negative HBV DNA in serum. Although small amounts of HBV DNA and cccDNA (0.1 and 0.01 copy/cell, respectively) remained in the mouse livers, some of the mice remained persistently negative for serum HBV DNA at 13 weeks after cessation of the therapy. Serum HBsAg and hepatitis B core-related antigen (HBcrAg) continued to decrease and eventually became negative at 12 weeks after cessation of the therapy. Analysis of the HBV genome in treated mice showed accumulation of G-to-A hypermutation and CpG III island methylation. Persistent loss of serum HBV DNA and loss of HBV markers by high-dose entecavir and PEG-IFN combination treatment in chimeric mice suggests that control of HBV can be achieved even in the absence of a cellular immune response.
Project description:Co-infection with hepatitis B (HBV) and D virus (HDV) is associated with the most severe course of liver disease. Interferon represents the only treatment currently approved. However, knowledge about the impact of interferons on HDV in human hepatocytes is scant. Aim was to assess the effect of pegylated interferon alpha (peg-IFNα) and lambda (peg-IFNλ), compared to the HBV-polymerase inhibitor entecavir (ETV) on all HDV infection markers using human liver chimeric mice and novel HDV strand-specific qRT-PCR and RNA in situ hybridization assays, which enable intrahepatic detection of HDV RNA species. Peg-IFNα and peg-IFNλ reduced HDV viremia (1.4 log and 1.2 log, respectively) and serum HBsAg levels (0.9-log and 0.4-log, respectively). Intrahepatic quantification of genomic and antigenomic HDV RNAs revealed a median ratio of 22:1 in untreated mice, resembling levels determined in HBV/HDV infected patients. Both IFNs greatly reduced intrahepatic levels of genomic and antigenomic HDV RNA, increasing the amounts of HDAg- and antigenomic RNA-negative hepatocytes. ETV-mediated suppression of HBV replication (2.1-log) did not significantly affect HBsAg levels, HDV productivity and/or release. In humanized mice lacking adaptive immunity, IFNs but not ETV suppressed HDV. Viremia decrease reflected the intrahepatic reduction of all HDV markers, including the antigenomic template, suggesting that intracellular HDV clearance is achievable.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Persistent hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection causes liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma and constitutes a major worldwide health problem. Currently, anti-HBV drugs are limited to peginterferon and nucleos(t)ide analogs, which are costly and have considerable side effects; the development of novel, effective anti-HBV agents is crucial. METHODS:Catechins are a major group of compounds found in green tea extract and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) has been shown to have antiviral properties, including inhibition of cellular entry by HBV. FRG (Fah-/-/ Rag2-/-/ IL-2R?/-) mice were used in this study to generate chimeras carrying human primary hepatocytes, to facilitate investigation of the inhibitory effect of EGCG on HBV infection. RESULTS:Here, we show the inhibitory effect of EGCG on HBV infection and replication in HuS-E/2 cells. The inhibitory effect of EGCG on HBV infection in vivo was confirmed by monitoring HBV DNA and HBsAg in serum and immunostaining the liver tissues of the human liver chimeric mice. CONCLUSIONS:The effects of EGCG suggest a robust strategy for the treatment of HBV infection and EGCG may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of HBV-associated liver diseases.
Project description:Cyclophilin A (CypA), predominantly located intracellularly, is a multifunctional protein. We previously reported decreased CypA levels in hepatocytes of transgenic mice expressing hepatitis B virus (HBV) surface antigen (HBsAg). In this study, we found that expression of HBV small surface protein (SHBs) in human hepatoma cell lines specifically triggered CypA secretion, whereas SHBs added extracellularly to culture medium did not. Moreover, CypA secretion was not promoted by the expression of a secretion deficient SHBs mutant, suggesting a close association between secretion of CypA and SHBs. Interaction between CypA and SHBs was observed by using coimmunoprecipitation and glutathione S-transferase pull-down assays. Hydrodynamic injection of the SHBs expression construct into C57BL/6J mice resulted in increased serum CypA levels and ALT/AST levels, as well as the infiltration of inflammatory cells surrounding SHBs-positive hepatocytes. The inflammatory response and serum ALT/AST level were reduced when the chemotactic effect of CypA was inhibited by cyclosporine and anti-CD147 antibody. Furthermore, higher serum CypA levels were detected in chronic hepatitis B patients than in healthy individuals. In HBV patients who had received liver transplantation, serum CypA levels declined dramatically after the loss of HBsAg as a consequence of liver transplantation. Taken together, these results indicate that expression and secretion of SHBs can promote CypA secretion, which may contribute to the pathogenesis of HBV infection.
Project description:We previously reported that Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9)-CpG oligonucleotides could inhibit the establishment of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections in hepatocytes. Our aim was to uncover the underlying mechanisms of this inhibition. HepaRG cells, RPMI-B lymphoblastoma cells, and primary plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) exposed to HBV and TLR9 ligands/agonists in various configurations were used. We observed an inhibition of HBV infection upon TLR9 stimulations only when agonist was applied during inoculation. This inhibition was independent of interleukin-6 (IL-6)/interferon-inducible protein 10 (IP-10) production as well as of TLR9 expression in hepatocytes. We further demonstrated an entry inhibition mechanism by showing a noncovalent binding of TLR9 agonist to HBV particles. Besides inhibiting HBV entry into hepatocytes, this biophysical interaction between HBV virions and TLR9 agonist was responsible for a reduction of alpha interferon (IFN-?) expression by pDCs. Interestingly, subviral particles composed of only HBsAg were able to genuinely inhibit the TLR9 pathway, without titrating TLR9 ligands. To conclude, our data suggest that synthetic TLR9-CpG oligonucleotides can strongly inhibit HBV entry by "coating" HBV virions and thereby preventing their interaction with cellular receptor. This titration effect of TLR9 agonist is also artifactually responsible for the inhibition of TLR9 engagement in pDCs, whereas a genuine inhibition of this innate pathway was confirmed with HBsAg subviral particles.