To investigate the type of immunity responsible for resolution of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, we monitored antibody and intrahepatic cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses during acute (<20 weeks) infection in chimpanzees. Two animals who terminated infection made strong CTL but poor antibody responses. In both resolvers, CTL targeted at least six viral regions. In contrast, animals developing chronic hepatitis generated weaker acute CTL responses. Extensive analysis of the fine specificity of the CTL in one resolver revealed nine peptide epitopes and restriction by all six MHC class I allotypes. Every specificity shown during acute hepatitis persisted in normal liver tissue more than 1 yr after resolution. These results suggest that CD8+CTL are better correlated with protection against HCV infection than antibodies.
Cooper, S., Erickson, A. L., Adams, E. J., Kansopon, J., Weiner, A. J., Chien, D. Y., … Walker, C. M. (1999). Analysis of a successful immune response against hepatitis C virus. Immunity, 10(4), 439–449. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1074-7613(00)80044-8