Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 17045504
Microbes Infect. 2006 Oct;8(12-13):2783-90
Helper T lymphocytes that control CD8(+) T-cell and antibody responses are key elements for the resolution of infection by the hepatitis B virus and for the development of effective immunological memory after hepatitis B vaccination. We have used H-2 class II-deficient mice that express the human MHC class II molecule, HLA-DR1, to identify novel hepatitis B virus envelope-derived T helper epitopes. We confirmed the immunogenicity of a previously described HLA-DR1-restricted epitope, and identified three novel epitopes. CD4(+) T-cell immune responses against these epitopes were detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from HLA-DR1(+) individuals vaccinated against hepatitis B. We showed that subjects receiving the currently available hepatitis B vaccines do not develop cross-reactive T helper responses against one of the novel epitopes which are structurally variable between different hepatitis B virus subtypes. These findings highlight the need for developing vaccines against a wider range of viral subtypes, and establish humanized mice as a convenient tool for identifying new immunogenic epitopes from pathogens.