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Study of the interplay between hepatitis B and hepatitis delta viruses and evaluation of investigational anti-HDV immuno-modulators in superinfection cell culture models

  • Alfaiate, Dulce
Publication Date
Sep 25, 2015
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HDV/HBV superinfection is the most aggressive form of chronic viral hepatitis and is estimated to affect 15-20 million patients worldwide. HDV is not susceptible to available direct anti-HBV drugs and sustained response to IFNα therapy occurs in less than 1/4 of patients. Despite the faster progression of liver disease, most HDV/ HBV infected patients present a suppression of HBV replication. The details of the interactions between HDV, HBV and the host cell innate immune response remain largely unexplored and research efforts have been limited by the lack of infection models. The aims of this thesis work were: i) to study HDV infection and the interplay with the host innate immune response; ii) to identify novel therapeutic strategies for the inhibition of HDV; iii) to further explore HDV/ HBV interference. The experimental strategy was based on infection of dHepaRG cells, which are known to be permissive to both HBV and HDV full replicative cycles and to present physiological innate immune responses. We observed that: i) HDV infection is associated with a strong, yet transient replication, a potent induction of the expression of ISGs; ii) IFN-α treatment of HDVinfected cells does not induce a further increase of ISG expression and has a modest antiviral activity. Conversely, some PRR agonists, in particular those inducing the NFkB pathway, induce a strong decline in HDV replication; iii) despite the low number of coinfected cells, HDV as well as its encoded proteins exert a repressive effect on HBV replication. Our work opens an array of perspectives on the pathogenesis of hepatitis delta and the identification of novel immune modulatory therapeutic strategies

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