Most people develop acute hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related hepatitis that is controlled by both humoral and cellular immune responses following acute infection. However, a number of individuals in HBV-endemic areas fail to resolve the infection and consequently become chronic carriers. While a vaccine is available and new antiviral drugs are being developed, elimination of persistently infected cells is still a major issue. Standard treatment in HBV infection includes IFN-α, nucleoside, or nucleotide analogs, which has direct antiviral activity and immune modulatory capacities. However, immunological control of the virus is often not durable. A robust T-cell response is associated with control of HBV infection and liver damage; however, HBV-specific T cells are deleted, dysfunctional, or become exhausted in chronic hepatitis patients. As a result, efforts to restore virus-specific T-cell immunity in chronic HBV patients using antiviral therapy, immunomodulatory cytokines, or therapeutic vaccination have had little success. Adoptive cell transfer of T cells with specificity for HBV antigen+ cells represents an approach aiming to ultimately eliminate residual hepatocytes carrying HBV covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA). Here, we discuss recent findings describing HBV immunopathology, model systems, and current therapies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy