We investigated the DNA immunization approach in order to induce a protective immune response against hepatitis delta virus (HDV) superinfection of chronically woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV) infected woodchucks. The animals were immunized with an expression vector encoding HDAg by gene gun. T cell and humoral immune responses induced by this protocol were determined and compared with those induced by HDAg immunization using a CpG oligonucleotide as an adjuvant. After immunization the woodchucks were challenged with 106genome equivalents of HDV. The protein immunization with HDAg induced good humoral and T helper cell responses in the woodchucks, but did not protect them from HDV superinfection. The DNA immunized woodchucks were also not protected from HDV superinfection, however, the course of infection was modified: HDV viremia occurred later, the typical fluctuation of the HDV RNA titer with several peaks was absent, and antibodies to HDV were not detectable. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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