Published online May 14, 2006. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v12.i18.2876
Revised: September 30, 2005
Accepted: October 26, 2005
Published online: May 14, 2006
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a global public health problem. Of the approximately 2 billion people who have been infected worldwide, more than 400 million are chronic carriers of HBV. Considerable numbers of chronic HBV carriers suffer from progressive liver diseases. In addition, all HBV carriers are permanent source of this virus. There is no curative therapy for chronic HBV carriers. Antiviral drugs are recommended for about 10% patients, however, these drugs are costly, have limited efficacy, and possess considerable side effects.
Recent studies have shown that immune responses of the host to the HBV are critically involved at every stage of chronic HBV infection: (1) These influence acquisition of chronic HBV carrier state, (2) They are important in the context of liver damages, (3) Recovery from chronic HBV-related liver diseases is dependent on nature and extent of HBV-specific immune responses. However, induction of adequate levels of HBV-specific immune responses in chronic HBV carriers is difficult. During the last one decade, hepatitis B vaccine has been administered to chronic HBV carriers as a therapeutic approach (vaccine therapy). The present regimen of vaccine therapy is safe and cheap, but not so effective. A dendritic cell-based therapeutic vaccine has recently been developed for treating chronic HBV infection. In this review, we will discuss about the concept, scientific logics, strategies and techniques of development of HBV-specific immune therapies including vaccine therapy and dendritic cell-based vaccine therapy for treating chronic HBV infection.