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J Immunol. 2001 Mar 1;166(5):3589-98.

Characterization of hepatitis C virus core-specific immune responses primed in rhesus macaques by a nonclassical ISCOM vaccine.

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  • 1Chiron Corp., Emeryville, CA 94608, USA.


Current therapies for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are only effective in a restricted number of patients. Cellular immune responses, particularly those mediated by CD8(+) CTLs, are thought to play a role in the control of infection and the response to antiviral therapies. Because the Core protein is the most conserved HCV protein among genotypes, we evaluated the ability of a Core prototype vaccine to prime cellular immune responses in rhesus macaques. Since there are serious concerns about using a genetic vaccine encoding for Core, this vaccine was a nonclassical ISCOM formulation in which the Core protein was adsorbed onto (not entrapped within) the ISCOMATRIX, resulting in approximately 1-microm particulates (as opposed to 40 nm for classical ISCOM formulations). We report that this Core-ISCOM prototype vaccine primed strong CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell responses. Using intracellular staining for cytokines, we show that in immunized animals 0.30-0.71 and 0.32-2.21% of the circulating CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cells, respectively, were specific for naturally processed HCV Core peptides. Furthermore, this vaccine elicited a Th0-type response and induced a high titer of Abs against Core and long-lived cellular immune responses. Finally, we provide evidence that Core-ISCOM could serve as an adjuvant for the HCV envelope protein E1E2. Thus, these data provide evidence that Core-ISCOM is effective at inducing cellular and humoral immune responses in nonhuman primates.

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