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Abstract

The development of human cultured hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication-permissive hepatocarcinoma cell lines has provided important new virological tools to study the mechanisms of HCV infection; however, this experimental model remains distantly related to physiological and pathological conditions. Here, we report the development of a new ex vivo model using human adult liver slices culture, demonstrating, for the first time, the ability of primary isolates to undergo de novo viral replication with the production of high-titer infectious virus as well as Japanese fulminant hepatitis type 1, H77/C3, and Con1/C3. This experimental model was employed to demonstrate HCV neutralization or HCV inhibition, in a dose-dependent manner, either by cluster of differentiation 81 or envelope protein 2–specific antibodies or convalescent serum from a recovered HCV patient or by antiviral drugs. Conclusion: This new ex vivo model represents a powerful tool for studying the viral life cycle and dynamics of virus spread in native tissue and also allows one to evaluate the efficacy of new antiviral drugs. (HEPATOLOGY 2012;56:861–872)