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Changes to the Natural Killer Cell Repertoire after Therapeutic Hepatitis B DNA Vaccination

Abstract : BACKGROUND: Improvements to the outcome of adaptive immune responses could be achieved by inducing specific natural killer (NK) cell subsets which can cooperate with dendritic cells to select efficient T cell responses. We previously reported the induction or reactivation of T cell responses in chronic hepatitis B patients vaccinated with a DNA encoding hepatitis B envelope proteins during a phase I clinical trial. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In this study, we examined changes in the peripheral NK cell populations occurring during this vaccine trial using flow cytometry analysis. Despite a constant number of NK cells in the periphery, a significant increase in the CD56(bright) population was observed after each vaccination and during the follow up. Among the 13 different NK cell markers studied by flow cytometry analysis, the expression of CD244 and NKG2D increased significantly in the CD56(bright) NK population. The ex vivo CD107a expression by CD56(bright) NK cells progressively increased in the vaccinated patients to reach levels that were significantly higher compared to chronically HBV-infected controls. Furthermore, modifications to the percentage of the CD56(bright) NK cell population were correlated with HBV-specific T cell responses detected by the ELISPOT assay. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: These changes in the CD56(bright) population may suggest a NK helper effect on T cell adaptive responses. Activation of the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system by DNA immunization may be of particular importance to the efficacy of therapeutic interventions in a context of chronic infections. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00988767.
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Daniel Scott-Algara, Maryline Mancini-Bourgine, Fontaine Hélène, Stanislas Pol, Marie-Louise Michel. Changes to the Natural Killer Cell Repertoire after Therapeutic Hepatitis B DNA Vaccination. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2010, 5 (Issue 1), pp.e8761. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0008761⟩. ⟨pasteur-00449357⟩

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