Background & aims: T cells are an important component for development of a vaccine against hepatitis C virus (HCV), but little is known about the features of successful vaccine-induced T cells.
Methods: We compared the phenotype, function, and kinetics of vaccine-induced and infection-induced T cells in chimpanzees with HCV infection using multicolor flow cytometry and real-time polymerase chain reaction.
Results: In chimpanzees successfully vaccinated with recombinant adenovirus and DNA against HCV NS3-5, HCV-specific T cells appeared earlier, maintained better functionality, and persisted at higher frequencies for a longer time after HCV challenge, than those of mock-vaccinated chimpanzees. Vaccine-induced T cells displayed higher levels of CD127, a marker of memory precursors, and lower levels of programmed death-1 (PD-1) than infection-induced T cells. Vaccine-induced, but not infection-induced, T cells were multifunctional; their ability to secrete interferon gamma and tumor necrosis factor α correlated with early expression of CD127 but not PD-1. Based on a comparison of vaccine-induced and infection-induced T cells from the same chimpanzee, the CD127(+) memory precursor phenotype was induced by the vaccine itself rather than by low viremia. In contrast, induction of PD-1 correlated with viremia, and levels of intrahepatic PD-1, PD-L1, and 2,5-OAS-1 messenger RNAs correlated with peak titers of HCV.
Conclusions: Compared with infection, vaccination-induced HCV-specific CD127(+) T cells with high functionality that persisted at higher levels for a longer time. Control of viremia prevented up-regulation of PD-1 on T cells and induction of PD-1, PD-L1, and 2,5-OAS-1 in the liver. Early development of a memory T-cell phenotype and, via control of viremia, attenuation of the inhibitory PD1-PD-L1 pathway might be necessary components of successful vaccine-induced protection against HCV.
Copyright © 2012 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.