Research ArticleHEPATITIS

An OX40/OX40L interaction directs successful immunity to hepatitis B virus

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Science Translational Medicine  21 Mar 2018:
Vol. 10, Issue 433, eaah5766
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aah5766
  • Fig. 1 Age-dependent expression of OX40 ligand on hepatic APCs and age-dependent expression of OX40 on liver-derived CD4+ T cells during acute hepatitis.

    (A) Ox40l mRNA expression relative to Gapdh was determined by real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) using mRNA derived from myeloid-enriched leukocyte preparations isolated from the liver of adult (8 to 11 weeks) and young (3 weeks) Rag1/ mice (n = 10). (B and C) Percentages of OX40L+ (B) and percentages of all (C) resident macrophages [F4/80hi, CD11b+/intermediate(int), major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II+/int, CD11c, Ly6G, Ly6C, and NK1.1], dendritic cells (DCs; CD11c+/hi, MHC class II+/hi, CD11b, Ly6G, Ly6C, and NK1.1), and monocytes/monocyte-derived macrophages (F4/80int, CD11b+/hi, MHC class II+/int, Ly6C+, Ly6G, CD11c, and NK1.1) (n = 4). (D) Ox40l mRNA expression relative to Gapdh was determined by RT-PCR using mRNA derived from flow-sorted pooled cell populations from adult and young livers (n = 6 mice). ND, not detectable. (E to G) Lymphocytes were isolated from HBVEnvRag/ mouse livers 8 days after adoptive transfer of splenocytes (n = 8). Flow cytometry was used to determine (E) percentages of CD4+ T cells [CD4+, T cell receptor β (TCRβ)+, NK1.1, CD8, and CD19] and T follicular helper (TFH) cells (CD4+, TCRβ+, CXCR5+, ICOS+, NK1.1, CD8, and CD19), (F) percentages of OX40+ CD4+ T cells and OX40+ TFH cells, and (G) percentages of CD4+ T cells that are also OX40+ in the liver. Bars represent means ± SEM. Statistical significance was determined using the unpaired two-tailed t test (*P < 0.05, **P < 0.01, and ***P < 0.001).

  • Fig. 2 Adoptive transfer of adult Ox40/ splenocytes into adult HBVEnvRag/ mice alters hepatic inflammation, HBsAg clearance, HBsAb seroconversion, T cell responses, and cytokine production.

    (A) Plasma alanine aminotransferase (ALT) values, reflecting liver injury, were determined for HBVEnvRag/ mice receiving wild-type (WT) (Ox40+/+) splenocytes (open squares, solid line) or Ox40/ splenocytes (closed triangles, dotted line) at given time points after adoptive transfer (n ≥ 5). (B) Hematoxylin and eosin staining of liver sections from adult HBVEnvRag/ mice 8 days after adoptive transfer. Arrows indicate necrotic hepatocytes. Scale bar, 25 μm. (C) Composite score of hepatic necrosis, portal inflammation, and intraparenchymal inflammation in the liver sections determined by a pathologist blinded to sample identity. Statistical significance was determined using Mann-Whitney two-tailed (***P = 0.0008; n = 8 mice). (D) Plasma HBsAg loss and (E) HBsAb titer in HBVEnvRag/ mice at given time points after adoptive transfer. Statistical significance was determined using the chi-square test (***P < 0.001; n ≥ 5 mice). (F and G) Presence of hepatitis B virus (HBV)–specific T cells was determined using IFN-γ enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISpot) 8 days (F) and 84 days (G) after adoptive transfer (data pooled from n = 5 mice). Threshold defining a positive response is ≥2× the baseline (dashed line). (H and I) Percentages of total lymphocyte subpopulations were determined by flow cytometry in the liver 8 days after adoptive transfer: T cells are CD19 and TCRβ+; CD4+ T cells are CD4+, CD8, TCRβ+, and CD19; TFH cells are CD4+, CD8, TCRβ+, CD19, CXCR5+, and ICOS+; CD8+ T cells are CD4, CD8+, TCRβ+, and CD19; B cells are TCRβ and CD19+; NK cells are TCRβ, CD19-, and NK1.1+. Statistical significance was determined using the unpaired two-tailed t test (**P < 0.01 and ***P < 0.001; n = 5 mice). Bars represent means ± SEM. (J) Expression of various cytokine mRNAs relative to Gapdh was detected by RT-PCR on mRNA from liver lymphocytes 8 days after adoptive transfer (n ≥ 5). Bars represent means ± SEM. Statistical significance was determined using the unpaired two-tailed t test (*P < 0.05).

  • Fig. 3 Hepatic HBV envelope RNA and protein expression levels in HBVRplRag/ mice 7 days (1 week) and 8 to 24 weeks after adoptive transfer with WT or Ox40/ splenocytes show OX40-dependent regulation of viral replication intermediates.

    (A) Plasma ALT values, reflecting liver injury, were determined for HBVRplRag/ mice receiving WT splenocytes (open circles) or Ox40−/− splenocytes (closed circles) at day 7 after adoptive transfer (n ≥ 9). Statistical significance was determined using the paired two-tailed t test (*P < 0.05). Liver pieces were removed 7 days (B to D), 8 weeks, or 24 weeks (D and E) after adoptive transfer and either flash-frozen for RNA extraction or fixed in formalin for immunohistochemistry (IHC). (C and E) HBV envelope RNA was detected by Northern blot analysis using a DIG-labeled (−) strand HBV RNA probe. RNA transcript band intensities in WT or Ox40/ transferred mice were compared to untransferred Rag1/ negative controls or untransferred HBVRplRag/ positive controls and normalized to 18S RNA bands. Statistical significance was determined using the unpaired two-tailed t test (*P < 0.05; n ≥ 4 for all groups except Rag/ untransferred, where n = 2). Bars represent means ± SEM. (D) HBV envelope protein levels were measured by IHC staining of formalin-fixed liver tissue with an HBsAg-specific antibody and counterstained with hematoxylin. Stained sections were scored by a pathologist blinded to sample identities using the scoring system shown in (F); 0, no staining; 1, multifocal granular or diffuse staining in hepatocytes involving <25% of section; 2, granular or diffuse staining around centrilobular hepatocytes with no staining in portal regions; 3, diffuse positivity of hepatocytes restricted to centrilobular region; granular cytoplasmic positivity in remaining hepatocytes; and 4, diffuse positivity of hepatocytes restricted to centrilobular and mid zonal regions; granular cytoplasmic positivity in remaining hepatocytes. n ≥ 4 for all groups except Rag/ untransferred, where n = 2. Bars represent means ± SEM.

  • Fig. 4 Adoptive transfer of adult WT splenocytes into HBVEnvRag/ adult mice treated with an OX40L blocking antibody abrogates biochemical hepatitis and HBV-specific T cell responses and cytokine expression.

    (A) Plasma ALT values were determined in HBVEnvRag/ adult mice receiving intraperitoneal injection of 100 μg of OX40 ligand (OX40L) block (RM134L) (open circles, dotted line) or control IgG (purified rat IgG2b isotype control; closed triangles, solid line) on days 0, 2, 4, and 6 after adoptive transfer of WT splenocytes (n = 7). (B) Eight days after transfer, percentages of lymphocyte populations were determined by flow cytometric analysis of liver lymphocytes derived from HBVEnvRag/ mice treated with either control IgG (black bars) or OX40L block (white bars). Bars represent means ± SEM. Statistical significance was determined using the unpaired two-tailed t test (*P < 0.05 and ***P < 0.001; n = 6). (C) HBV-specific T cell responses were measured using IFN-γ ELISpot assay 8 days after adoptive transfer. Threshold defining a positive response is ≥2× the baseline (dashed line; n = pooled from four mice). (D) Relative Il21 expression compared to Gapdh was detected by RT-PCR on mRNA from liver lymphocytes isolated 8 days after adoptive transfer. Bars represent means ± SEM. Statistical significance was determined using the unpaired two-tailed t test (**P < 0.01; n = 6).

  • Fig. 5 Treatment with an OX40 agonist antibody of 3-week-old HBVtgRag/ mice or mice with chronic HBV disease results in an altered immune response to HBV.

    (A) Plasma ALT values from young HBVEnvRag/ mice receiving intraperitoneal injection of 150 μg of OX40 agonist antibody (OX86; open triangles, dashed line) or control IgG (purified rat IgG1 isotype control; closed squares, solid line) on days 0, 3, and 5 after adoptive transfer of WT splenocytes (n = 4). (B) Percentages of CD4+ T cells and TFH cells determined by flow cytometry in liver tissue 8 days after adoptive transfer into 3-week-old HBVEnvRag/ (left panel) or HBVRplRag/ (right panel) treated with control IgG (black bars) or OX40 agonist (white bars). Bars represent means ± SEM. Statistical significance was determined using the unpaired two-tailed t test (*P < 0.05 and **P < 0.01; n ≥ 3). (C) Presence of HBsAg in the plasma of young HBVEnvRag/ mice treated with OX40 agonist (open triangles, dashed line) or control IgG (closed squares, solid line). Statistical significance was determined using the chi-square test (***P < 0.001). Data were pooled from two experiments (n = 8 mice per group total). (D) Presence of HBV-specific T cells was determined using IFN-γ ELISpot 56 days after adoptive transfer of young HBVEnvRag/ mice injected with OX40 agonist (white bars) or control IgG (black bars). Data are representative of three individual experiments (n = pooled from four mice). (E) IFN-γ ELISpot analysis of HBV-specific T cell responses on liver lymphocytes from mice treated with OX40 agonist that cleared HBsAg (striped bars) or treated with OX40 agonist and did not clear HBsAg (gray bars) (n = pooled from two mice). For (D) and (E), the threshold defining a positive response is ≥2× the baseline (dashed line). (F to H) HBVRplRag/ or HBVEnvRag/ mice confirmed to have the serological profile of chronic HBV disease were treated with OX40 agonist (open bars) or control antibody (closed bars) (F) for eight treatments 3×/week or (G and H) at days 84, 87, 89 and 168, 171, 173, 175 after adoptive transfer. Presence of HBV-specific T cells was determined using IFN-γ ELISpot on liver lymphocytes after stimulation with (F) individually defined dominant and subdominant peptide epitopes or (G and H) pools of HBV peptides spanning the entire protein (F) 14 days or (G and H) 122 days after first treatment with OX40 agonist or control IgG (38 days after second treatment and 206 days after adoptive transfer) in (G) HBVEnvRag/ mice and (H) HBVRplRag/ mice. Data are representative of two individual experiments (n = pooled from 2–4 mice). Threshold defining a positive response is ≥2× the baseline (dashed line).

  • Fig. 6 Adult human liver shows greater OX40L expression than infant liver, and patients with acute hepatitis B who clear the virus have significantly increased percentages of PBMC-derived CD4+ T cells, a greater percentage of which express OX40.

    (A) Expression of OX40L relative to GAPDH was determined by RT-PCR performed on RNA extracted from paraffin-embedded liver biopsy samples from infants 6 to 12 weeks of age (black bar, n = 24) and adults (white bar, n = 9). Bars represent means ± SEM. Statistical significance was determined using the unpaired two-tailed t test (*P < 0.05). (B) Flow cytometry analysis comparing lymphocyte populations in PBMC obtained from eight patients with confirmed acute HBV infection during active hepatitis and with confirmed subsequent viral clearance and HBsAb seroconversion, and eight patients with confirmed chronic HBV infection exhibiting a flare of disease. T cells are TCRβ+, CD19, and CD56; CD4+ T cells are CD4+, CD8, TCRβ+, and CD19; TFH cells are CD4+, CD8, TCRβ+, CD19, CXCR5+, and ICOS+; CD8+ T cells are CD4, CD8+, TCRβ+, and CD19-; B cells are TCRβ and CD19+; and NK cells are TCRβ, CD19, CD56+, and CD16+. Bars represent means ± SEM. Statistical significance was determined using the unpaired two-tailed t test (**P < 0.01). (C) Percentage of CD4+ OX40+ T cells present in PBMC obtained from eight patients with acute HBV, eight patients with chronic HBV exhibiting a hepatitic flare of disease, as well as six untreated patients with confirmed chronic HBV with inactive disease (normal ALT), and six healthy individuals. Bars represent means ± SEM. Statistical significance was determined using Tukey’s analysis of variance (ANOVA) multiple comparison test (*P < 0.05 and **P < 0.01).

Supplementary Materials

  • www.sciencetranslationalmedicine.org/cgi/content/full/10/433/eaah5766/DC1

    Fig. S1. Age-dependent expression of OX40L on hepatic APCs.

    Fig. S2. OX40L mRNA expression in various tissues, strains, and liver-derived cell populations.

    Fig. S3. Adult HBVEnvRag/ mice have more hepatic CD4+ lymphocytes and more circulating and hepatic OX40+ CD4+ lymphocytes 8 days after adoptive transfer compared to young mice.

    Fig. S4. Lack of OX40 expression on lymphocytes alters hepatitis, HBsAg clearance, HBsAb seroconversion, and T cell numbers but does not impair HBcAb seroconversion in HBVRplRag/ mice or HBsAb seroconversion in response to the human HBV vaccine.

    Fig. S5. Adoptive transfer of adult WT splenocytes into HBVEnvRag/ adult mice treated with an OX40L blocking antibody abrogates biochemical hepatitis but does not alter long-term HBsAg clearance or HBsAb production.

    Fig. S6. Young HBVtgRag/ mice treated with the OX40 agonist show increased absolute numbers of CD4+ T cells and TFH cells eight days after adoptive transfer of splenocytes.

    Fig. S7. Infants do not have decreased expression of transcripts associated with monocyte and macrophage populations relative to adults.

    Fig. S8. Patients with AHB who clear the virus have increased percentages of PBMC-derived CD4+ T cells, and a greater percentage of these CD4+ T cells express OX40.

    Table S1. Peripheral expression of HBsAg at given times after adoptive transfer.

    Table S2. Identified 15-mer HBV envelope peptide sequences for ELISpot containing dominant and subdominant epitopes.

    Table S3. Primary data.

  • Supplementary Material for:

    An OX40/OX40L interaction directs successful immunity to hepatitis B virus

    Jean Publicover, Anuj Gaggar, Jillian M. Jespersen, Ugur Halac, Audra J. Johnson, Amanda Goodsell, Lia Avanesyan, Stephen L. Nishimura, Meghan Holdorf, Keith G. Mansfield, Joyce Bousquet Judge, Arya Koshti, Michael Croft, Adil E. Wakil, Philip Rosenthal, Eric Pai, Stewart Cooper, Jody L. Baron*

    *Corresponding author. Email: jody.baron{at}ucsf.edu

    Published 21 March 2018, Sci. Transl. Med. 10, eaah5766 (2018)
    DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aah5766

    This PDF file includes:

    • Fig. S1. Age-dependent expression of OX40L on hepatic APCs.
    • Fig. S2. OX40L mRNA expression in various tissues, strains, and liver-derived cell populations.
    • Fig. S3. Adult HBVEnvRag−/− mice have more hepatic CD4+ lymphocytes and more circulating and hepatic OX40+ CD4+ lymphocytes 8 days after adoptive transfer compared to young mice.
    • Fig. S4. Lack of OX40 expression on lymphocytes alters hepatitis, HBsAg clearance, HBsAb seroconversion, and T cell numbers but does not impair HBcAb seroconversion in HBVRplRag−/− mice or HBsAb seroconversion in response to the human HBV vaccine.
    • Fig. S5. Adoptive transfer of adult WT splenocytes into HBVEnvRag−/− adult mice treated with an OX40L blocking antibody abrogates biochemical hepatitis but does not alter long-term HBsAg clearance or HBsAb production.
    • Fig. S6. Young HBVtgRag−/− mice treated with the OX40 agonist show increased absolute numbers of CD4+ T cells and TFH cells eight days after adoptive transfer of splenocytes.
    • Fig. S7. Infants do not have decreased expression of transcripts associated with monocyte and macrophage populations relative to adults.
    • Fig. S8. Patients with AHB who clear the virus have increased percentages of PBMC-derived CD4+ T cells, and a greater percentage of these CD4+ T cells express OX40.
    • Table S1. Peripheral expression of HBsAg at given times after adoptive transfer.
    • Table S2. Identified 15-mer HBV envelope peptide sequences for ELISpot containing dominant and subdominant epitopes.

    [Download PDF]

    Other Supplementary Material for this manuscript includes the following:

    • Table S3 (Microsoft Excel format). Primary data.

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