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Type: Thesis
Title: Characterisation of the events involved in the resolution of acute duck hepatitis B virus infection.
Author: Reaiche, Georget Yacknisa
Issue Date: 2008
School/Discipline: School of Molecular and Biomedical Science
Abstract: The human hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the prototype member of the Hepadnaviridae family of viruses. Various other hepadnaviruses are used as models to study human HBV infections as all Hepadnaviridae family members have similar virus structure and replication strategies. The studies performed and described in this thesis were carried out using duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV) infection of Pekin ducks as a model system. Hepadnavirus infections can have either an acute or a chronic outcome. The factors that contribute to these outcomes include the immune response, the age of the host at the time of infection as well as size of viral inoculum. The overall aim of this project was to gain a detailed understanding of the mechanisms involved in clearance of virus and resolution of acute DHBV infections. As a first step, molecular and immunohistochemical detection methods for a range of cellular markers in ducks had to be developed as assays were not readily available. Quantitative reverse transcription PCR assays (qRT-PCR) were developed for the detection of mRNA of the duck T-lymphocyte markers, CD3, CD4, CD8, duck cytokines, IFN-α, IFN-γ, TNF-α and the duck housekeeping genes, β-actin and GAPDH. Immunohistochemistry was developed for the detection of duck CD4 + and CD8 + on T cells and for the detection of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) as a marker of cell proliferation. These methods were then widely used throughout the project. The innate immune response during HBV infections is not well understood. Toll-like receptors (TLR) are a family of pattern recognition receptors that form part of the innate immune response and are involved in the recognition of bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens. The only TLR that have been reported to recognise viral pathogens are TLR- 2, TLR-3, TLR-4, TLR-7 and TLR-9. The possible role of TLR during hepadnavirus infections had not been well characterized to date. In this project cDNA sequences for duck TLR-2, TLR-4 and TLR-7 were identified and characterised and qRT-PCR assays were developed for their detection. Changes in duck TLR-2, TLR-4 and TLR-7 mRNA expression during hepadnavirus infection were identified following DHBV infection of primary duck hepatocytes (PDH) in vitro. The results showed increased levels of expression of duck TLR early during infection indicating an involvement of TLR and the innate immune response during DHBV infection. During the in vivo DHBV infection studies performed to date TLR mRNA expression remained unchanged. As previously mentioned hepadnavirus infection can have an acute or chronic outcome. We aimed to understand the mechanisms involved during the resolution of acute DHBV infection and to elucidate specific factors contributing to the successful resolution of infection. During acute infections immune markers were monitored by qRT-PCR and histological analysis of fixed liver sections was performed. Liver sections were analysed to detect liver inflammation, the number and size of Kupffer cells, hepatocyte apoptosis and changes in hepatocyte proliferation throughout the course of acute DHBV infection in 6-week-old ducks. By determining the percentage of DHBV-positive hepatocytes two patterns of clearance of acute DHBV infection were observed; early clearance of infected hepatocytes occurring before day 14 post infection (p.i.), and late clearance occurring after day 14, but before or on day 31 p.i. This viral clearance was seen to occur in a cell by cell pattern. Higher levels of hepatocyte proliferation and apoptotic hepatocytes were detected during the clearance phase (on day 14 p.i.) of the late clearance group. Periodic acid schiff-diastase (PAS-D) staining was used to show significant increases in both cell number and size of Kupffer cells. Levels of IFN-γ mRNA increased significantly over the uninfected age-matched control ducks on day 14 p.i. Levels of CD3, CD4 and CD8 mRNA expression also increased over the uninfected controls on days 14 and 31 p.i. In summary, we found that resolution of acute DHBV infection occurred on a cell by cell pattern of clearance, it was accompanied by increases in hepatocyte proliferation, apoptotic hepatocytes and activated Kupffer cells, indicating that T lymphocytes and cell death play important roles in the rapid clearance of DHBV infection. Following resolution of acute hepadnaviral infections residual viral DNA has been found to persist. Residual HBV DNA in humans can result in reactivation of HBV infection following liver transplantation or immunosuppressive drug treatment. This leads to possible pathogenic outcomes thus the need for further investigations. Previous studies performed in the duck model have shown that the major form of residual DNA is present as covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA). We aimed to understand how this residual cccDNA was being maintained and if replication was involved in the process. Following resolution of infection in ducks, levels of residual DHBV DNA were monitored by quantitative PCR (qPCR). Ducks were treated with the Bristol-Myers Squibb nucleoside analogue Entecavir (ETV) in order to suppress any possible replication that might be maintaining levels of residual cccDNA. In DHBV-infected but non-ETV treated ducks, the levels of residual DHBV DNA decreased gradually when measured on days 60, 221 and 316 p.i. The observed decrease in residual DHBV DNA occurred in parallel with decreases in the rate of hepatocyte proliferation measured by PCNA staining. This finding suggests that levels of residual DHBV DNA and hepatocyte proliferation are linked and we hypothesise that hepatocyte turnover is involved in the clearance of residual DHBV DNA. ETV treatment did not have an effect on the levels of residual DHBV DNA which suggests that it is present in a subset of long-lived hepatocytes that do not support virus replication. Mathematical modelling was performed to predict the rate of hepatocyte proliferation required for the elimination of residual cccDNA. The mathematical modelling showed that the predicted rate of hepatocyte proliferation was consistent with the rate of hepatocyte proliferation measured by PCNA. Further mathematical modelling showed that residual cccDNA is most likely to survive mitosis and it decreases due to several rounds of hepatocyte proliferation required for its elimination. Altogether, this project has elucidated mechanisms involved during the resolution of acute DHBV infection and also possible mechanisms by which residual DHBV DNA is maintained following resolution of infection. Detailed understanding of the virological and immunological events that occur during the resolution of an acute hepadnavirus infection would assist in the development of new therapeutic treatments for the cure of chronic HBV infections.
Advisor: Jilbert, Allison Rae
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) - University of Adelaide, School of Molecular and Biomedical Science, 2008
Subject: Hepatitis B virus. Ducks Diseases. Virology. Immunology.
Keywords: Virology; Immunology; Animal model; Hepatitis B virus; Residual infection; Duck hepatitis B virus; Acute infection
Provenance: Copyright material removed from digital thesis. See print copy in University of Adelaide Library for full text.
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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