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Keywords:

  • dendritic cells;
  • hepatitis C virus;
  • in vitro

Abstract

In vitro infection of human monocyte-derived dendritic cells was carried out to study their susceptibility to hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Immature dendritic cells and mature dendritic cells were incubated overnight at 37°C with HCV-positive (genotype 1) serum samples; the presence of the viral genome associated with the production of its replicative intermediate was used as evidence of infection. In immature dendritic cells, HCV RNA was detectable from days 1–10 post-infection (p.i.), and de novo synthesis of negative-strand HCV RNA could be demonstrated by a strand-specific rTth reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction at day 2. In mature dendritic cells, the positive-strand form was detectable from days 1–5 p.i., while the negative-strand HCV RNA appeared at days 1 and 2 p.i. Quasispecies present in the inoculum and 6 days p.i. were analyzed by sequencing hypervariable region 1 of the E2 protein. Only two of seven HVR variants present in the inoculum were found in HCV-infected immature dendritic cells. Another two HVR variants not found in the inoculum were recovered from infected immature dendritic cells, suggesting serum minor variants selection or virus evolution during in vitro replication. Analysis by single-strand conformation polymorphism assay of 5′ untranslated region of HCV sequences showed that the patterns obtained from the inoculum and infected immature dendritic cells and mature dendritic cells differed slightly. These findings indicate that both immature dendritic cells and mature dendritic cells are susceptible to HCV genotype 1 infection, supporting at least HCV RNA replication. This model should be a valuable tool for the study of modulation of dendritic cell functions in HCV infection. J. Med. Virol. 67:152–161, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.