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Abstract

Chronic infection with the hepatitis C virus, a noncytopathic hepatotropic RNA virus, affects over 170 million people worldwide. In the majority of cases, neither the early innate immune response nor the later adaptive immune response succeeds in clearing the virus, and the infection becomes chronic. Furthermore, in many patients, the ineffective inflammatory response drives fibrogenesis and the development of cirrhosis. It is critical to understand this immune pathology if preventative and curative therapies are to be developed. Chemokines are a superfamily of small proteins that promote leukocyte migration and orchestrate the immune response to viruses, including hepatitis C virus. Chemokines are crucial for viral elimination, but inappropriate persistence of expression in chronic hepatitis C infection can drive tissue damage and inflammation. Here we review the role of chemokines and their receptors in hepatitis C virus infection. (HEPATOLOGY 2009;49:676–688.)