Cellular immunity to nucleocapsid and pre-S determinants in asymptomatic carriers of hepatitis B virus

S. Vento, S. H. Chen, G. Giuliani-Piccari, C. J. O'Brien, P. R. Dal Monte, A. L.W.F. Eddleston, C. R. Howard, R. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies of cellular immunity in asymptomatic HBV carriers have been limited to evaluation of responses to plasma-derived HBsAg preparations. We have explored the specificity of cellular immune responses to HBV antigens in these subjects using an indirect T-lymphocyte migration inhibitory factor assay and three antigen preparations (recombinant nucleocapsid antigen (HBcAg), plasma-derived HBsAg with or without pre-S2, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae-synthesized HBsAg without pre-S2 region. T cells from 10 asymptomatic chronic HBV carriers with normal liver function tests were responsive to nucleocapsid determinants (mean migration index = 0.55 ± SD 0.07) and to pre-S2-positive plasma-derived HBsAg (MI = 0.62 ± 0.05). However, none responded to HBsAg devoid of pre-S2 sequences (MI = 0.98 ± 0.04). In further experiments, T cells from three HBV carriers, cultured with six different HBsAg preparations, exhibited responsiveness only to those preparations containing significant pre-S2 activities. Our results show that T-cell immunity to nucleocapsid determinants of the virus and HBsAg is present in asymptomatic HBV carriers; the latter is restricted to antigenic preparations containing significant pre-S2 activities. Hence, T-cell immunity to pre-S determinants may not always be associated with HBV clearance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-598
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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