Extrahepatic replication of HCV: Insights into clinical manifestations and biological consequences

Authors


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.

Abstract

An estimated 170 million persons are infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) worldwide. While hepatocytes are the major site of infection, a broad clinical spectrum of extrahepatic complications and diseases are associated with chronic HCV infection, highlighting the involvement of HCV in a variety of non-hepatic pathogenic processes. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that HCV can replicate efficiently in extrahepatic tissues and cell types, including peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Nonetheless, laboratory confirmation of HCV replication in extrahepatic sites is fraught with technical challenges, and in vitro systems to investigate extrahepatic replication of HCV are severely limited. Thus, future studies of extrahepatic replication should combine innovative in vitro assays with a prospective cohort design to maximize our understanding of this important phenomenon to the pathogenesis and treatment response rates of HCV. (HEPATOLOGY 2006;44:15–22.)

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