High frequency of functional anti-YMDD and-mutant cytotoxic T lymphocytes after in vitro expansion correlates with successful response to lamivudine therapy for chronic hepatitis B

C-L. Lin; S-L. Tsai; T-H. Lee; R-N. Chien; S-K. Liao; Y-F. Liaw
January 2005
Gut;Jan2005, Vol. 54 Issue 1, p152
Academic Journal
Background: Many determinants for a sustained response to lamivudine therapy have been reported but the role of I cell responsiveness remains unclear. The finding that lyrosine-methionine-aspartate-aspartate (YMDD) motif of the reverse transcriptase domain of hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA polymerase carries a HLA-A2 restricted cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CII) epitope makes quantitative measurement of the numbers of peptide specific CTLs feasible using MHC tetramer-peptide complex staining. Aim: To investigate the correlation between anti-YMDD motif CTL activity and the efficacy of lamivudine therapy in HLA-A2 positive patients with chronic hepatitis B (CH-B). Methods: The function and phenotype of peptide and interleukin 2 expanded peripheral blood mononuclear cells were quantified by cell lytic assay and immunocytochemical analysis by staining with HLA-A2-peptide tetramer complexes. Results: After in vitro expansion, sustained responders had more potent CL responses against YMDD, YVDD, and YIDD, as well as other epitopes on I-IBV antigens than non-responders. The frequency of YMDD/YVDD/YIDD motif specific CTLs increased significantly with an effective cell lytic function during and after therapy in sustained responders but not in non-responders. YMDD specific CILs cross reacted with YIDD and YVDD mutant epitopes, and shared T cell receptor gene usages with YIDD and YYDD specific CTLs. Conclusions: Sustained responders, at least HLA-A2 patients, elicited a more potent CL immunity against YMDD and its mutants. YMDD specific CTLs are cross reactive with YVDD and YIDD mutant epitopes, which may further contribute to immune clearance of the mutant viruses and a successful response to lamivudine therapy in CH-B patients.


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