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In vitro immune responses to hepatitis B surface antigen (pre-S2 and S) following remote infection by hepatitis B virus in humans


In this report we evaluate the human immune response to hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) following remote infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBsAg-reactive lymphocytes can be readily demonstrated in the peripheral blood of individuals with established immunity following infection with HBV.In vitro stimulation with small doses of plasma-derived HBsAg, yeast-derived HBsAg (S region) or pre-S2 peptide will induce specific IgG to HBsAg (anti-HBs) in the absence of a polyclonal increase in total IgG. The pre-S2 peptide will stimulate, in a T cell-dependent fashion, thein vitro production of anti-HBs with specificity for the S domain. This anti-HBs production is mediated by pre-S2-stimulated soluble T-cell factors. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from individuals with established immunity proliferate to the yeast-derived HBsAg but not to the plasma-derived HBsAg or pre-S2 peptide. The chronic HBsAg carriers do not produce anti-HBs following stimulation with HBsAg regardless of the source or component of antigen used. Different study protocols failed to demonstrate HBsAg-specific responses in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells of chronic carriers.

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Cupps, T.R., Hoofnagle, J.H., Ellis, R.W. et al. In vitro immune responses to hepatitis B surface antigen (pre-S2 and S) following remote infection by hepatitis B virus in humans. J Clin Immunol 9, 229–241 (1989).

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Key words

  • Hepatitis B virus
  • anti-HBs
  • hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) chronic carrier
  • pre-S2