Regulatory T cells (Treg) play a key role in the impaired immune response that is typical for a chronic Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. To gain more insight in the mechanism that is responsible for this impaired immune response, the effect of viral load reduction resulting from treatment with the nucleotide analogue adefovir dipivoxil on the percentages of Treg and HBV-specific T-cell responses was analyzed. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of 12 patients were collected at baseline and during treatment. In parallel to the decline in viral load, we found a decline in circulating Treg, combined with an increase in HBV core antigen-specific IFN-γ production and proliferation. The production of IL10 did not decrease during therapy. In conclusion, adefovir induced viral load reduction results in a decline of circulating Treg together with a partial recovery of the immune response.

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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Stoop, J., van der Molen, R., Kuipers, E., Kusters, J., & Janssen, H. (2007). Inhibition of viral replication reduces regulatory T cells and enhances the antiviral immune response in chronic hepatitis B. Virology, 361(1), 141–148. doi:10.1016/j.virol.2006.11.018