Protective and therapeutic effect of DNA-based immunization against hepadnavirus large envelope protein.
Rollier C., Sunyach C., Barraud L., Madani N., Jamard C., Trepo C., Cova L.
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Studies in the murine model suggest that injection of DNA encoding hepatitis B virus structural proteins is promising for the induction of a specific immune response. We used the duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV) model to study the protective and therapeutic effects of naked DNA immunization against hepadnaviral large envelope protein. METHODS: A pCI-preS/S plasmid expressing the DHBV large protein was used for intramuscular immunization of ducks. The humoral response was tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, immunoblotting, neutralization, and in vivo protection tests. For DNA therapy, DHBV-carrier ducks received four injections of this plasmid. Viremia was monitored for 10 months; thereafter, liver biopsies were performed. RESULTS: Immunization with pCI-preS/S plasmid induced a specific, long-lasting, neutralizing, and highly protective anti-preS humoral response in uninfected animals. After pCI-preS/S treatment, a significant and sustained decrease in serum and liver DHBV DNA was observed for carrier ducks compared with the controls. CONCLUSIONS: DNA immunization against DHBV large protein results in a potent and protective anti-preS response in the duck model. The results of long-term follow-up of DNA-treated chronically infected ducks are promising and show the usefulness of this model for the study of genetic immunization in chronic hepatitis B therapy.