Current liver research: Detection of a wide range of hepatitis delta virus (HDV) -specific T-cell responses in patient samples
There are approximately 10-15 million people worldwide who are simultaneously infected with Hepatitis B and D (HBV and HDV). Patients who have a chronic hepatitis D virus infection often show a severe course to the development of (cirrhosis) or liver cancer. There are currently few therapeutic options for these patients.
It is of great interest to characterize exactly how the immunological reaction progresses in the course of hepatitis B and D infection involving the body’s own T cells. The working group around Mr PD Dr. Julian Schulze zur Wiesch, Head of the subproject A06, I. Department of Internal Medicine Hamburg-Eppendorf, in a further step has characterized a broad spectrum of immune responses in hepatitis virus B and D positive patients.
In more than 50% of patients infected with both hepatitis viruses, in vitro immune responses could be observed with different T cell populations (CD8 + and CD4 +). These responses were independent of the clinical status of the patients. The HDV-specific T cell responses focused on three distinct HDV-specific epitopes, which are distinct, short segments of the HDV protein that can elicit an immune response, and were detected in 12-21% of patients, respectively. This comprehensive characterization of HDV T cell epitopes provides important information to facilitate further studies of HDV immunopathogenesis. This work was developed in cooperation with researchers from the SFB841 (project A08, Dr. Lütgehetmann), the UKE and the University of San Diego.