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Virol J. 2009 May 27;6:66. doi: 10.1186/1743-422X-6-66.

Conserved peptides within the E2 region of Hepatitis C virus induce humoral and cellular responses in goats.

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Department of Biomedical Technology, National Research Center, Giza, Egypt.


The reason(s) why human antibodies raised against hepatitis C virus (HCV) E2 epitopes do not offer protection against multiple viral infections may be related to either genetic variations among viral strains particularly within the hypervariable region-1 (HVR-1), low titers of anti E2 antibodies or interference of non neutralizing antibodies with the function of neutralizing antibodies. This study was designed to assess the immunogenic properties of genetically conserved peptides derived from the C-terminal region of HVR-1 as potential therapeutic and/or prophylactic vaccines against HCV infection. Goats immunized with E2-conserved synthetic peptides termed p36 (a.a 430-446), p37(a.a 517-531) and p38 (a.a 412-419) generated high titers of anti-p36, anti-p37 and anti-P38 antibody responses of which only anti- p37 and anti- p38 were neutralizing to HCV particles in sera from patients infected predominantly with genotype 4a. On the other hand anti-p36 exhibited weak viral neutralization capacity on the same samples. Animals super-immunized with single epitopes generated 2 to 4.5 fold higher titers than similar antibodies produced in chronic HCV patients. Also the studied peptides elicited approximately 3 fold increase in cell proliferation of specific antibody-secreting peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from immunized goats. These results indicate that, besides E1 derived peptide p35 (a.a 315-323) described previously by this laboratory, E2 conserved peptides p37 and p38 represent essential components of a candidate peptide vaccine against HCV infection.

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