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J Clin Invest. 2019 Apr 30;130. pii: 120228. doi: 10.1172/JCI120228.

T cell receptor grafting allows virological control of Hepatitis B virus infection.

Author information

1
Institute of Virology, Helmholtz Zentrum München, Munich, Germany.
2
Institute of Virology, School of Medicine, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany.
3
German Centre for Infection Research (DZIF), Munich, Hamburg, and Heidelberg partner sites, Germany.
4
1st Department of Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.
5
Institute of Microbiology, Virology, and Hygiene, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.
6
Department of Infectious Diseases, Molecular Virology, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

Abstract

T cell therapy is a promising means to treat chronic HBV infection and HBV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma. T cells engineered to express an HBV-specific T cell receptor (TCR) may achieve cure of HBV infection upon adoptive transfer. We investigated the therapeutic potential and safety of T cells stably expressing high affinity HBV envelope- or core-specific TCRs recognizing European and Asian HLA-A2 subtypes. Both CD8+ and CD4+ T cells from healthy donors and from chronic hepatitis B patients became polyfunctional effector cells when grafted with HBV-specific TCRs and eliminated HBV from infected HepG2-NTCP cell cultures. A single transfer of TCR-grafted T cells into HBV-infected, humanized mice controlled HBV infection and virological markers declined 4-5 log or below detection limit. When - as in a typical clinical setting - only a minority of hepatocytes were infected, engineered T cells specifically cleared infected hepatocytes without damaging non-infected cells. Cell death was compensated by hepatocyte proliferation and alanine amino transferase levels peaking at day 5 to 7 normalized again thereafter. Co-treatment with the entry inhibitor Myrcludex B ensured long-term control of HBV infection. Thus, T cells stably transduced with highly functional TCRs have the potential to mediate clearance of HBV-infected cells causing limited liver injury.

KEYWORDS:

Hepatitis; Immunology; Immunotherapy; T cells; Virology

PMID:
31039136
DOI:
10.1172/JCI120228
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