Validation of Cross-Genotype Neutralization by Hepatitis B Virus-Specific Monoclonal Antibodies by In Vitro and In Vivo Infection

>Vaccines based on hepatitis B virus (HBV) genotype A have been used worldwide for immunoprophylaxis and are thought to prevent infections by non-A HBV strains effectively, whereas, vaccines generated from genotype C have been used in several Asian countries, including Japan and Korea, where HBV genotype C is prevalent. However, acute hepatitis B caused by HBV genotype A infection has been increasing in Japan and little is known about the efficacy of immunization with genotype C-based vaccines against non-C infection. We have isolated human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) from individuals who were immunized with the genotype C-based vaccine. In this study, the efficacies of these two mAbs, HB0116 and HB0478, were analyzed using in vivo and in vitro models of HBV infection. Intravenous inoculation of HBV genotype C into chimeric mice with human hepatocytes resulted in the establishment of HBV infection after five weeks, whereas preincubation of the inocula with HB0116 or HB0478 protected chimeric mice from genotype C infection completely. Interestingly, both HB0116 and HB0478 were found to block completely genotype A infection. Moreover, infection by a genotype C strain with an immune escape substitution of amino acid 145 in the hepatitis B surface protein was also completely inhibited by incubation with HB0478. Finally, in vitro analysis of dose dependency revealed that the amounts of HB0478 required for complete protection against genotype C and genotype A infection were 5.5 mIU and 55 mIU, respectively. These results suggested that genotype C-based vaccines have ability to induce cross-genotype immunity against HBV infection.

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