Although there is strong evidence that hepatitis C virus (HCV) is one of the leading causes of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), there is still much to understand regarding the mechanism of HCV-induced transformation. While liver fibrosis resulting from long-lasting chronic inflammation and liver regeneration resulting from immune-mediated cell death are likely factors that contribute to the development of HCC, the direct role of HCV proteins remains to be determined. In vitro studies have shown that HCV expression may interfere with cellular functions that are important for cell differentiation and cell growth. However, most studies were performed in artificial models which can only give clues for potential mechanisms that need to be confirmed in more relevant models. Furthermore, the difficulty to identify HCV proteins and infected liver cells in patients, contributes to the complexity of our current understanding. For these reasons, there is currently very little experimental evidence for a direct oncogenic role of HCV. Further studies are warranted to clarify these issues. © 2009 European Association for the Study of the Liver.
Bartosch, B., Thimme, R., Blum, H. E., & Zoulim, F. (2009, October). Hepatitis C virus-induced hepatocarcinogenesis. Journal of Hepatology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2009.05.008