A Recombinant HAV Expressing a Neutralization Epitope of HEV Induces Immune Response against HAV and HEV in Mice
Hepatitis A virus (HAV) infections result in different courses of the disease, varying between normal, prolonged and relapsing. However, the reason for these heterogeneous clinical appearances is not understood. As HAV-anti-HAV IgA immunocomplexes (HAV-IgA) infect hepatocytes, IgA was postulated as a carrier supporting hepatotropic transport of HAV, and it was speculated that this carrier mechanism contributes to the various clinical outcomes. In this study, the IgA-carrier mechanism was investigated in a mouse model. We show that HAV-IgA immunocomplexes efficiently reached the liver not only in HAV-seronegative mice, but also, and this is in contrast to free-HAV particles, in immunized HAV-seropositive animals. This IgA-mediated transport of HAV to the liver in the presence of immunity depended on the stage of development of the immune response. We conclude that over a period of several weeks after infection, anti-HAV IgA is able to promote an enterohepatic cycling of HAV, resulting in continuous endogenous reinfections of the liver. Our experiments indicate that highly avid IgG antibodies, which are present at later times of the infection, can terminate the reinfections. However, the endogenous reinfections in the presence of a developing neutralizing immunity might contribute to prolonged as well as to relapsing courses of HAV infections. Furthermore, the results show that serum IgA may act as an infection protracting factor.