PloS one

Direct infection and replication of naturally occurring hepatitis C virus genotypes 1, 2, 3 and 4 in normal human hepatocyte cultures.

PMID 18628977


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection afflicts about 170 million individuals worldwide. However, the HCV life cycle is only partially understood because it has not been possible to infect normal human hepatocytes in culture. The current Huh-7 systems use cloned, synthetic HCV RNA expressed in hepatocellular carcinoma cells to produce virions, but these cells cannot be infected with naturally occurring HCV obtained from infected patients. Here, we describe a human hepatocyte culture permissible to the direct infection with naturally occurring HCV genotypes 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the blood of HCV-infected patients. The culture system mimics the biology and kinetics of HCV infection in humans, and produces infectious virions that can infect naïve human hepatocytes. This culture system should complement the existing systems, and may facilitate the understanding of the HCV life cycle, its effects in the natural host cell, the hepatocyte, as well as the development of novel therapeutics and vaccines.

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