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Hepatology. 2013 Jul;58(1):73-85. doi: 10.1002/hep.26339. Epub 2013 May 23.

Therapeutic recovery of hepatitis B virus (HBV)-induced hepatocyte-intrinsic immune defect reverses systemic adaptive immune tolerance.

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Institute of Immunopharmacology & Immunotherapy, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Shandong University, Shandong, China.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) persistence aggravates hepatic immunotolerance, leading to the failure of cell-intrinsic type I interferon and antiviral response, but whether and how HBV-induced hepatocyte-intrinsic tolerance influences systemic adaptive immunity has never been reported, which is becoming the major obstacle for chronic HBV therapy. In this study, an HBV-persistent mouse, established by hydrodynamic injection of an HBV-genome-containing plasmid, exhibited not only hepatocyte-intrinsic but also systemic immunotolerance to HBV rechallenge. HBV-specific CD8(+) T-cell and anti-HBs antibody generation were systemically impaired by HBV persistence in hepatocytes. Interestingly, HBV-induced hepatocyte-intrinsic immune tolerance was reversed when a dually functional vector containing both an immunostimulating single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) and an HBx-silencing short hairpin RNA (shRNA) was administered, and the systemic anti-HBV adaptive immune responses, including CD8(+) T-cell and anti-HBs antibody responses, were efficiently recovered. During this process, CD8(+) T cells and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) secreted play a critical role in clearance of HBV. However, when IFN-α/β receptor was blocked or the Toll-like receptor (TLR)7 signaling pathway was inhibited, the activation of CD8(+) T cells and clearance of HBV was significantly impaired.


These results suggest that recovery of HBV-impaired hepatocyte-intrinsic innate immunity by the dually functional vector might overcome systemic adaptive immunotolerance in an IFN-α- and TLR7-dependent manner. The strategy holds promise for therapeutic intervention of chronic persistent virus infection and associated cancers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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