Detection and distribution of hepatitis C—specific antigens in naturally infected liver



Hepatitis C virus antigen expression was examined using peptide antibodies in liver tissue taken at biopsy from four chronic carriers of hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C virus antigens E2/NS1, NS3, NS4 and NS5 were widespread in unfixed frozen liver sections and were present as distinct granules or foci within the cytoplasm of hepatocytes and in infiltrating lymphocytes in portal tracts. Fixation of frozen sections with 1% formalin improved the histological appearance of the tissue section without reducing the sensitivity of antigen detection. However, in tissue sections fixed in acetone, chloroform, carbon tetrachloride or methyl carnoys, detection of all hepatocyte-specific hepatitis C virus antigens was significantly reduced. Dual immunostaining of liver sections for lymphocyte cluster of differentiation markers and hepatitis C virus antigens determined that a high proportion of cluster of differentiation 20—positive B cells and cluster of differentiation 4—and cluster of differentiation 8—positive T cells, predominant in lymphoid aggregates, were positive for hepatitis C virus antigens. (HEPATOLOGY 1994;20:553–557).