Unraveling Key Determinant of Chronic Hepatitis B Vaccination

Therapeutic hepatitis B vaccine activates CD4 T cells during prime immunization
Hepatitis B therapeutic vaccination
Journal of Hep, Jan 2023 - Activation of CD4 T cells during prime immunization
Germany (Precision Vaccinations)

The role of viral hepatitis as a public health threat has long been underestimated. For example, over 800,000 people die each year from the consequences of a hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection.

The United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development project recently called for action to reduce this global disease.

While prophylactic vaccines are available to prevent HBV infection, more than 3% of the world's population are chronically infected and do not benefit.

In response, a research team from Germany recently announced they highlighted the success of therapeutic hepatitis B vaccination depends on the efficient priming of HBV-specific CD4 T cells.

These researchers from the Institute of Virology at Helmholtz Munich, the Technical University of Munich, and the German Center for Infection Research found the benefits of heterologous prime-boost vaccination deliver a more robust and longer-lasting immunity.

Most essential is the optimization of TherVacB prime- and boost vaccination strategies requires a thorough understanding of which vaccine component activates the different immune system cells, like T- or B cells.

These factors are essential for breaking immune tolerance in HBV carriers and determining a successful outcome of therapeutic vaccination.

Therapeutic vaccination is a promising, potentially curative treatment for chronic hepatitis B, wrote these researchers on January 9, 2023.

This study provides the first direct evidence that efficient priming of HBV-specific CD4 T cells determines the success of therapeutic hepatitis B vaccination in two preclinical HBV-carrier mouse models.

Applying an optimal formulation of HBV antigens that allows activating CD4 and CD8 T cells during prime immunization provided the foundation for an antiviral effect of therapeutic vaccination.

While depletion of CD4 T cells leads to a complete loss of vaccine-induced antiviral efficacy.

Boosting CD8 T cells was essential to control HBV in these mouse models.

Our findings provide important insights into the rational design of therapeutic vaccines to cure chronic hepatitis B, wrote these researchers. 

This study also confirms and expands the textbook knowledge in a concrete case and underlines the importance of the prime vaccination to nudge the immune system in the desired direction.

It thus serves to develop or improve therapeutic vaccines against chronic hepatitis B - and maybe other chronic or malignant diseases - and hopefully help to accelerate the progress towards a cure for chronic hepatitis B, which will be a great benefit for millions of hepatitis B patients worldwide, wrote these researchers.

This research was published in the Journal of Hepatology on January 9, 2023. This project received funding from the German Research Foundation and others. No industry conflicts of interest were disclosed.

In the U.S., the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends various people receive hepatitis B vaccination. Other hepatitis B vaccine news is posted at PrecisionVaccinations.

Article by
Donald Hackett