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Eur J Immunol. 2001 Jul;31(7):2071-9.

Induction of strong hepatitis B virus (HBV) specific T helper cell and cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses by therapeutic vaccination in the trimera mouse model of chronic HBV infection.

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Ist Department of Internal Medicine Hospital, Mainz, Germany.


Humanized BALB/c mice (termed trimera mice) conditioned by lethal total body irradiation and bone marrow transplantation from SCID mice have been described to support rapid engraftment of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and the induction of strong B and T cell responses after immunization in vivo. Moreover, these mice can be infected with the hepatitis B and C viruses (HBV, HCV). The current study employed this model to study therapeutic vaccination approaches against the HBV. Thus, strong primary Th cell responses against the HBV core (HBc) and the Borrelia burgdorferi control antigen were induced by transfer of antigen-loaded dendritic cells together with autologous PBMC from HBV-naive donors as well as by vaccination with high doses of antigen or a DNA plasmid encoding for HBcAg. Moreover, primary peptide-specific CTL responses against the immunodominant epitope HBc(18 - 27) were induced by HBc particle or DNA vaccination of chimera engrafted with HBV-naive PBMC. Finally, strong HBc-specific Th cell and antibody responses were induced by HBc or DNA vaccination of mice reconstituted with PBMC from a chronic HBV patient. Thus, since HBc represents the immunodominant antigen in self-limited HBV infection, HBc particles or DNA vectors are good candidates for therapeutic vaccination, that will be further studied in our model and clinical studies.

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