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Sci Rep. 2018 Mar 29;8(1):5390. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-23525-w.

Direct antiviral properties of TLR ligands against HBV replication in immune-competent hepatocytes.

Author information

1
INSERM, U1052, Cancer Research Center of Lyon (CRCL), Université de Lyon (UCBL1), CNRS UMR_5286, Centre Léon Bérard, Lyon, France. julie.lucifora@inserm.fr.
2
INSERM, U1052, Cancer Research Center of Lyon (CRCL), Université de Lyon (UCBL1), CNRS UMR_5286, Centre Léon Bérard, Lyon, France.
3
CIRI - International Center for Infectiology Research, Inserm, U1111, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, CNRS, UMR5308, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, Univ Lyon, F-69007, Lyon, France.
4
INSERM U1032, Centre Léon Bérard (CLB), Lyon, France.
5
Roche Pharma Research and Early Development (pRED), Roche Innovation Center Basel, F. Hoffmann-La Roche, 4070, Basel, Switzerland.
6
Gilead Sciences, Inc, Foster City, CA, USA.
7
Department of Hepatology, Croix-Rousse Hospital, Hospices Civils de Lyon, Lyon, France.
8
INSERM, U1052, Cancer Research Center of Lyon (CRCL), Université de Lyon (UCBL1), CNRS UMR_5286, Centre Léon Bérard, Lyon, France. david.durantel@inserm.fr.

Abstract

Current therapies for chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections are effective at decreasing the viral load in serum, but do not lead to viral eradication. Recent studies highlighted the therapeutic or "adjuvant" potential of immune-modulators. Our aim was to explore the direct anti-HBV effect of Toll-Like-Receptors (TLR) agonists in hepatocytes. HBV-infected primary human hepatocytes (PHH) or differentiated HepaRG cells (dHepaRG) were treated with various TLR agonists. Amongst all TLR ligands tested, Pam3CSK4 (TLR1/2-ligand) and poly(I:C)-(HMW) (TLR3/MDA5-ligand) were the best at reducing all HBV parameters. No or little viral rebound was observed after treatment arrest, implying a long-lasting effect on cccDNA. We also tested Riboxxol that features improved TLR3 specificity compared to poly(I:C)-(HMW). This agonist demonstrated a potent antiviral effect in HBV-infected PHH. Whereas, poly(I:C)-(HMW) and Pam3CSK4 mainly induced the expression of classical genes from the interferon or NF-κB pathway respectively, Riboxxol had a mixed phenotype. Moreover, TLR2 and TLR3 ligands can activate hepatocytes and immune cells, as demonstrated by antiviral cytokines produced by stimulated hepatocytes and peripheral blood mononuclear cells. In conclusion, our data highlight the potential of innate immunity activation in the direct control of HBV replication in hepatocytes, and support the development of TLR-based antiviral strategies.

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