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Title: Harnessing the immune response to optimise treatment strategies in chronic hepatitis B
Author: Gill, Upkar S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7654 029X
Awarding Body: Queen Mary University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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Chronic Hepatitis B (CHB) related cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) account for more than 750,000 deaths per year. Current therapies for CHB are limited in achieving HBsAg decline/loss and thus there remains a pressing need for curative treatment strategies. Although, Pegylated Interferon-α (Peg-IFNα) may be used, the majority of patients progress to nucleos(t)ide analogue (NUC) therapy due to treatment failure. Peg-IFNα and NUCs used in isolation act differentially on the immune response; Peg-IFNα induces NK cell activation and NUC therapy may partially restore T cell function. NK cells are important antiviral effectors, highly enriched in the liver, with the potential to regulate immunopathogenesis in persistent viral infections. Here we examined the NK cell pool in HBeAg-positive CHB patients treated with Peg-IFNα and whether changes in the NK cell repertoire are induced when patients are 'primed' with Peg-IFNα and importantly, whether these changes are sustained or further modulated long-term after switching to sequential NUC therapy. The cumulative expansion of CD56bright NK cells driven by 48-weeks of Peg-IFNα was maintained at higher than baseline levels throughout the subsequent 9 months of sequential NUCs. Peg- IFNα-expanded NK cells showed further augmentation in their expression of the activating NK cell receptors during sequential NUCs. The expansion in proliferating, functional NK cells and HBsAg reduction was greater and more pronounced following sequential NUCs than in patients treated with de novo NUCs. This highlights the potential benefit of Peg-IFNα- priming, providing mechanistic insights for the further optimisation of treatment strategies to achieve sustained responses. Sustained boosting of NK cells on sequential NUCs following Peg-IFNα-priming has not previously been described raising the potential of 'long-lived' NK cell populations in keeping with their emerging adaptive features. These findings provide a mechanistic and immunological rationale to explore combination/sequential treatment strategies for CHB, including on-treatment immune responses in the liver, whilst awaiting the emergence of new therapies in the field.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Wellcome Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Immunobiology ; Chronic Hepatitis B ; hepatocellular carcinoma ; NK cells ; Pegylated Interferon-a