In order to investigate the immune response to duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV) infection, newly hatched DHBV DNA negative ducklings were injected with infectious serum of sufficiently low DHBV-DNA titer to allow clearance of viremia. Of 20 injected ducklings, 13 (65%) became viremic. Of these, 6 (46%) cleared virus from the serum 3 to 22 weeks postinjection. The convalescent sera of these 6 animals were tested for an epitope-specific antibody response in a highly specific competitive inhibition assay using a panel of monoclonal antibodies against duck hepatitis B surface antigen (DHBsAg) that had been well-characterized. All 6 animals recovering from DHBV infection developed antibodies to epitopes on the preS and S proteins of DHBV. Antibody responses were highly variable with marked differences between animals in the extent and specificity of the antibody response. The humoral response to DHBsAg was prolonged in some animals but transient in others. No antibody to preS or S was detected in either preimmune sera or sera of control animals from an uninfected flock. Infected animals that did not clear viremia also remained antibody negative. The humoral responses to neutralizing preS epitopes III and V were weak but antibodies to two immunodominant epitopes on the preS region (II and B) were present in all 6 animals. The humoral response to the two epitopes in the S region was transient and of lower titer when compared to the two immunodominant preS epitopes. The two immunodominant preS epitopes may play an important role in clearance of DHBV infection in ducks.
View details for Web of Science ID A1990DF12300025
View details for PubMedID 1693247