Monoclonal anti-envelope antibody AP33 protects humanized mice against a patient-derived hepatitis C virus challenge

Isabelle Desombere, Samira Fafi-Kremer, Freya Van Houtte, Patrick Pessaux, Ali Farhoudi, Laura Heydmann, Lieven Verhoye, Sarah Cole, Jane A McKeating, Geert Leroux-Roels, Thomas F Baumert, Arvind H Patel, Philip Meuleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


End-stage liver disease caused by hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major indication for liver transplantation. However, immediately after transplantation the liver graft of viremic patients universally becomes infected by circulating virus, resulting in accelerated liver disease progression. Currently available direct-acting antiviral therapies have reduced efficacy in patients with end-stage liver disease and prophylactic strategies to prevent HCV recurrence are still highly needed. In this study we compared the ability of two broadly reactive monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), designated 3/11 and AP33, recognizing a distinct but overlapping epitope in the viral E2 glycoprotein to protect humanized mice from a patient-derived HCV challenge. Their neutralizing activity was assessed using the HCVpp and HCVcc systems expressing multiple patient-derived envelopes and a human-liver chimeric mouse model. HCV RNA was readily detected in all control mice challenged with a patient-derived HCV genotype 1b isolate, while three out of four AP33-treated mice were completely protected. In contrast, only one out of four 3/11-treated mice remained HCV RNA negative throughout the observation period, while the other three had a viral load that was indistinguishable from that in the control group. The increased in vivo efficacy of AP33 was in line with its higher affinity and neutralizing capacity observed in vitro.

CONCLUSION: Although mAbs AP33 and 3/11 target the same region in E2, only mAb AP33 can efficiently protect from challenge with a heterologous HCV population in vivo. Since mAb AP33 efficiently neutralizes viral variants that escaped the humoral immune response and re-infected the liver graft of transplant patients, it may be a valuable candidate to prevent HCV recurrence. In addition our data is valuable for the design of a prophylactic vaccine. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1120-1134
Number of pages15
Issue number4
Early online date28 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


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