Therapeutic vaccination of woodchucks against chronic woodchuck hepatitis virus infection

Sandra Hervás-Stubbs, Juan José Lasarte, Pablo Sarobe, Jesús Prieto, John Cullen, Michael Roggendorf, Francisco Borrás-Cuesta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Background/Aims: Therapeutic vaccination is a new approach to treat patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection. We have used the woodchuck model to examine the efficacy and safety of this approach. Methods: Seven woodchucks chronically infected with woodchuck hepatitis virus were immunized with surface antigen from this virus, purified from plasma, in conjunction with a peptide named FIS (encompassing amino acids 106-118: FISEAIIHVLHSR from sperm whale myoglobin), which is recognized by T helper lymphocytes. As controls, two woodchucks chronically infected with woodchuck hepatitis virus were immunized: one with FIS only and the other with surface antigen only. Results: Co-immunization with surface antigen and FIS, but not with FIS or surface antigen alone, induced anti-surface antibodies in 7/7 immunized woodchucks. In the two woodchucks in which the highest titer of anti-surface antibody was elicited, severe liver damage was observed: one died of fulminant hepatitis and the other became seriously ill with hepatic injury and had to be sacrificed. Conclusions: Co-immunization of chronically infected woodchucks with surface antigen and a peptide recognized by T helper cells produces a good anti-surface antibody response. However, this strategy needs to be optimized before its implementation in humans. Although our experiments are not strictly comparable to vaccination of chronically hepatitis B virus-infected patients with recombinant or plasma-derived vaccines, we believe that precautions should be taken to avoid the risk of severe liver injury when immunizing hepatitis B virus carriers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)726-737
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Hepatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibodies
  • Hepatitis
  • Immune therapy
  • Peptides
  • T-cell help
  • Vaccination
  • Woodchuck
  • Woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV)
  • Woodchuck hepatitis virus surface antigen (WHsAg)


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