Ultrastructural observations of viral particles within hepatitis C virus-infected human B lymphoblastoid cell line

Annalucia Serafino, M. B. Valli, A. Alessandrini, A. Ponzetto, G. Carloni, L. Bertolini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected TOFE cells, a human bone marrow-derived B-cell line, were studied by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). We reported the presence of virus-like particles, (VLPs) having a diameter of 45 nm on average, within the cytoplasm of HCV-infected cells and their absence in uninfected cells. The VLPs were mostly seen in dilated cisternae of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and consisted of an electron-dense core and a membrane envelope with surface projections. In the HCV-infected TOFE cells, examination by TEM revealed tubular structures similar to those observed in liver cells of chimpanzees and humans infected by the virus. In some instances, the outer membrane of the particles was connected to the ER membrane, indicating possible virus budding into the cisternae. Rarely, coated vesicles containing a particle were seen. In most of the infected cells, enlarged cytoplasmic vacuoles filled with degenerative amorphous material were observed. The data suggest a flavivirus-like pattern of HCV morphogenesis in infected non-hepatic cells and identify lymphoblastoid TOFE cells as a valuable system for the study of the sequential steps of the infection process and the morphological effects produced by HCV infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-159
Number of pages7
JournalResearch in Virology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • HCV
  • TOFE cell line
  • ultrastructural changes
  • virus-like particle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Immunology


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