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Hepatology. 2014 Nov;60(5):1531-40. doi: 10.1002/hep.27278. Epub 2014 Sep 25.

T-cell immunity and hepatitis C virus reinfection after cure of chronic hepatitis C with an interferon-free antiviral regimen in a chimpanzee.

Author information

1
Center for Vaccines and Immunity, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, OH.

Abstract

Memory CD8+ T cells generated by spontaneous resolution of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection rapidly control secondary infections and reduce the risk of virus persistence. Here, CD8+ T-cell immunity and response to reinfection were assessed in a chimpanzee cured of an earlier chronic infection with an interferon (IFN)-free antiviral regimen. CD8+ T cells expanded from liver immediately before and 2 years after cure of chronic infection with two direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) targeted epitopes in the E2, nonstructural (NS)5a, and NS5b proteins. A second infection to assess CD8+ T-cell responsiveness resulted in rapid suppression of HCV replication by week 2, but viremia rebounded 3 weeks later and the infection persisted. The E2, NS5a, and NS5b proteins remained dominant CD8+ T-cell targets after reinfection. Resurgent HCV replication was temporally associated with mutational escape of NS5a and NS5b class I epitopes that had also mutated during the first chronic infection. Two epitopes in E2 remained intact throughout both persistent infections. Intrahepatic CD8+ T cells targeting intact and escape-prone epitopes differed in expression of phenotypic markers of functional exhaustion 2 years after successful DAA therapy and in the capacity to expand in liver upon reinfection.

CONCLUSIONS:

The intrahepatic HCV-specific CD8+ T-cell repertoire established during chronic infection was narrowly focused, but very stable, after cure with DAA. Existing intrahepatic CD8+ T cells targeting dominant epitopes of the challenge virus failed to prevent persistence. Vaccination after DAA cure may be necessary to broaden T-cell responses and reduce the risk of a second persistent infection.

PMID:
24975498
PMCID:
PMC4242208
DOI:
10.1002/hep.27278
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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