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Discovery of anti-claudin-1 antibodies as candidate therapeutics against hepatitis C virus.Claudin-1 (CLDN1), a known host factor for hepatitis C virus (HCV) entry and cell-to-cell transmission, is a target molecule for inhibiting HCV infection. We previously developed four clones of mouse anti-CLDN1 monoclonal antibody (mAb) that prevented HCV infection in vitro. Two of these mAbs showed the highest antiviral activity. Here, we optimized the anti-CLDN1 mAbs as candidates for therapeutics by protein engineering. Although Fab fragments of the mAbs prevented in vitro HCV infection, their inhibitory effects were much weaker than those of the whole mAbs. In contrast, human chimeric IgG1 mAbs generated by grafting the variable domains of the mouse mAb light and heavy chains inhibited in vitro HCV infection as efficiently as the parental mouse mAbs. However, the chimeric IgG1 mAbs activated Fcγ receptor, suggesting that cytotoxicity against mAb-bound CLDN1-expressing cells occurred through the induction of antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC). To avoid ADCC-induced side effects, we prepared human chimeric IgG4 mAbs. The chimeric IgG4 mAbs did not activate Fcγ receptor or induce ADCC, but they prevented in vitro HCV infection as efficiently as did the parental mouse mAbs. These findings indicate that the IgG4 form of human chimeric anti-CLDN1 mAb may be a candidate molecule for clinically applicable HCV therapy.
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Adoptive immunotherapy with liver allograft-derived lymphocytes induces anti-HCV activity after liver transplantation in humans and humanized mice.After liver transplantation in HCV-infected patients, the virus load inevitably exceeds pre-transplantation levels. This phenomenon reflects suppression of the host-effector immune responses that control HCV replication by the immunosuppressive drugs used to prevent rejection of the transplanted liver. Here, we describe an adoptive immunotherapy approach, using lymphocytes extracted from liver allograft perfusate (termed herein liver allograft-derived lymphocytes), which includes an abundance of NK/NKT cells that mounted an anti-HCV response in HCV-infected liver transplantation recipients, despite the immunosuppressive environment. This therapy involved intravenously injecting patients 3 days after liver transplantation with liver allograft-derived lymphocytes treated with IL-2 and the CD3-specific mAb OKT3. During the first month after liver transplantation, the HCV RNA titers in the sera of recipients who received immunotherapy were markedly lower than those in the sera of recipients who did not receive immunotherapy. We further explored these observations in human hepatocyte-chimeric mice, in which mouse hepatocytes were replaced by human hepatocytes. These mice unfailingly developed HCV infections after inoculation with HCV-infected human serum. However, injection of human liver-derived lymphocytes treated with IL-2/OKT3 completely prevented HCV infection. Furthermore, an in vitro study using genomic HCV replicon-containing hepatic cells revealed that IFN-gamma-secreting cells played a pivotal role in such anti-HCV responses. Thus, our study presents what we believe to be a novel paradigm for the inhibition of HCV replication in HCV-infected liver transplantation recipients.
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