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Keywords:

  • chronic infection;
  • DNA vaccine;
  • hepatitis B;
  • phase I;
  • T-cell response

Abstract

Background & Aims

Here, we evaluated the safety and immunogenicity of hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA vaccine, HB-110, in mice and Korean patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) undergoing adefovir dipivoxil (ADV) treatment.

Methods

For animal study, mice (BALB/c or HBV transgenic) were immunized with mHB-110, and T-cell and antibody responses were evaluated. For clinical study, 27 patients randomly received either ADV alone or ADV in combination with HB-110. Liver function tests, serum HBV DNA levels and the presence of HBeAg/anti-HBe were analysed. T-cell responses were estimated by ELISPOT and FACS analysis.

Results

mHB-110 induced higher T-cell and antibody responses than mHB-100 in mice. No adverse effects were observed by HB-110 cotreated with ADV. HBV-specific T-cell responses were induced in a portion of patients in medium to high dose of HB-110. Interestingly, HB-110 exhibited positive effects on ALT normalization and maintenance of HBeAg seroconversion. One patient, who received high dose of HB-110 exhibited HBeAg seroconversion during vaccination, which correlated with vaccine-induced T-cell responses without ALT elevation.

Conclusions

HB-110 was safe and tolerable in CHB patients. In contrast to results in animal models, HB-110 in Korean patients exhibited weaker capability of inducing HBV-specific T-cell responses and HBeAg seroconversion than HB-100 in Caucasian patients. As Asian patients, who are generally infected via vertical transmission, appeared to have higher level of immune tolerance than Caucasian, novel approaches for breaking immune tolerance rather than enhancing immunogenicity may be more urgently demanded to develop effective therapeutic HBV DNA vaccines.