Immune Responses against Hepatitis C Virus

  • Author / Creator
    Singh, Shakti
  • Hepatitis C virus (HCV) leads to chronic infection in the majority of infected patients presumably due to failure or inefficiency of the immune responses generated. Both antibody and cellular immune responses have been suggested to be important in viral clearance. Non-replicative adenoviral vectors expressing antigens of interest are considered as attractive vaccine vectors for a number of pathogens. In this study, we sought to evaluate cellular and humoral immune responses against HCV NS4 protein using recombinant adenovirus as a vaccine vector expressing NS4 antigen. We have also measured the effect of antigen doses and routes of immunization on the quality and extent of the immune responses, especially their role in viral load reduction, in a recombinant Vaccinia-HCV (Vac-HCV) infection mouse model. Our results show that an optimum dose of adenovirus vector (2×107 pfu/mouse) administered intramuscularly (i.m.) induces high T cell proliferation, granzyme B-expressing CD8+ T cells, pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-2 and IL-6, and antibody responses that can significantly reduce the Vac-HCV viral load in the ovaries of female C57BL/6 mice. Our results demonstrate that recombinant adenovirus vector can induce both humoral and cellular protective immunity against HCV-NS4 antigen, and that immunity is intricately controlled by route and dose of immunizing vector. Adenoviruses (Ad) are commonly used as vectors for gene therapy and/or vaccine delivery. Recombinant Ad vectors are being tested as vaccines for many pathogens. Here, we have made a surprising observation that peptides derived from various hepatitis C virus (HCV) antigens contain extensive regions of homology with multiple adenovirus proteins, and conclusively demonstrate that adenovirus vector can induce robust, heterologous cellular and humoral immune responses against multiple HCV antigens. Intriguingly, the induction of this cross-reactive immunity leads to significant reduction of viral loads in a recombinant vaccinia-HCV virus infected mouse model, supporting their role in antiviral immunity against HCV. Healthy human subjects with Ad-specific pre-existing immunity demonstrated cross-reactive cellular and humoral immune responses against multiple HCV antigens. These findings reveal the potential of a previously uncharacterized property of natural human adenovirus infection to dictate, modulate and/or alter the course of HCV infection upon exposure. This intrinsic property of adenovirus vectors to cross-prime HCV immunity can also be exploited to develop a prophylactic and/or therapeutic vaccine against HCV.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2015
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • Experimental Surgery
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Tyrell, Lorne (Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Alberta)
    • Mason, Andrew (Department of Medicine, University of Alberta)
    • Madrenas, Quim (Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Mcgill University)
    • Rayat, Gina (Department of Surgery, University of Alberta)
    • Agrawal, Babita (Department of Surgery, University of Alberta)