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Hepatitis C virus infection: in vivo and in vitro models


Hubert E. Blum, MD, Department of Medicine II, University of Freiburg, Hugstetter Strasse 55, D-79106 Freiburg, Germany. E-mail:


Summary.  Major advances in the understanding of the molecular biology of hepatitis C virus (HCV) have been made recently. While the chimpanzee is the only established animal model of HCV infection, several in vivo and in vitro models have been established that allow us to study various aspects of the viral life cycle. In particular, the replicon system and the production of recombinant infectious virions revolutionized the investigation of HCV-RNA replication and rendered all steps of the viral life cycle, including entry and release of viral particles, amenable to systematic analysis. In the following we will review the different in vivo and in vitro models of HCV infection.