Cell-mediated immune responses to hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) antigens are vigorous and multispecific in acute, self-limited infections. Moreover, the prevalent cytokine pattern of circulating virus-specific T cells from patients who recover spontaneously from acute hepatitis is Th1-like. Longitudinal analysis of the T cell response to HCV antigens from the early stages of HCV infection in patients who recover from hepatitis and those who do not indicates that weaker responses and a prevalent Th2 pattern of cytokine production is associated with viral persistence and chronic evolution of disease. Although similar sequential studies are missing in hepatitis B, the observation that HBV-specific T cell responses are very weak or totally undetectable in the peripheral blood of patients with long-lasting chronic hepatitis B suggests that strength and quality of virus-specific T cell responses at the early stages of infection may influence the final outcome of both hepatitis B and C. While T cell hyporesponsiveness seems to be an important determinant for HBV persistence once chronic hepatitis has developed, this mechanism appears to be less critical in chronic HCV infection, because the vigor and quality of HCV-specific T cell responses seem to improve as a function of the duration of infection. This is shown by the finding that HCV-specific CD4- and CD8-mediated responses are easily detectable in the peripheral blood of patients with long-lasting chronic hepatitis C and that production of Th1 cytokines predominates within their livers. HCV therefore seems to be able to persist even in the face of an active T cell response and to acquire the capacity to survive within a host environment apparently unfavorable to its persistence. The high variability of HCV may explain its efficiency in escaping immune surveillance.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Recent results in cancer research. Fortschritte der Krebsforschung. Progres dans les recherches sur le cancer|
|Publication status||Published - 1998|