Induction of Intrahepatic HCV NS4B, NS5A and NS5B-Specific Cellular Immune Responses following Peripheral Immunization

Krystle A. Lang Kuhs, Roberta Toporovski, Arielle A. Ginsberg, Devon J. Shedlock, David B. Weiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Numerous studies have suggested that an effective Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) vaccine must induce strong cytotoxic and IFN-γ+ T cell responses targeting the non-structural region of the virus. Most importantly, these responses must be able to migrate into and remain functional within the liver, an organ known to cause T cell tolerance. Using three novel HCV DNA vaccines encoding non-structural proteins NS4B, NS5A and NS5B, we assessed the ability of peripheral immunization to induce functional intrahepatic immunity both in the presence and absence of cognate HCV antigen expression within the liver. We have shown that these constructs induced potent HCV-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses in the spleen of C57BL/6 mice and that these responses were detected within the liver following peripheral immunization. Additionally, using a transfection method to express HCV antigen within the liver, we showed that intrahepatic HCV-specific T cells remained highly functional within the liver and retained the ability to become highly activated as evidenced by upregulation of IFN-γ and clearance of HCV protein expressing hepatocytes. Taken together, these findings suggest that peripheral immunization can induce potent HCV-specific T cell responses able to traffic to and function within the tolerant environment of the liver.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere52165
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 25 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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