© 2015 Bansal et al. HCV infection typically induces liver injury and inflammation, which appears to be responsible for the associated fibrogenesis. To date, the mechanism underlying the different rates of disease progression remains unclear. The aim of the study is to understand the possible role of the HCV non-structural (NS) 3/4A protein in the fibrosis progression. We used NS3/4A-expressing transgenic mice (NS3/4A-Tg) to accomplish the goals of the study. Different stages of liver fibrosis were induced in wild-type and NS3/4A-Tg mice by single carbon tetrachloride (acute) or multiple injections for 4 (intermediate) or 8 (chronic) weeks. Fibrotic parameters, inflammatory responses and hepatocyte turnover were extensively examined. Hepatic expression of HCV NS3/4A did not induce spontaneous liver damage. However, NS3/4A expression exerted contrasting effects during acute and chronic liver damage. During early fibrogenesis and intermediate fibrosis (4 weeks), NS3/4A-Tg mice exhibited enhanced liver damage whereas reduced fibrosis was observed in NS3/4A-Tg during chronic liver fibrosis (8 weeks). Furthermore, attenuated inflammation was observed in NS3/4A-Tg during chronic fibrosis with increase in M2 macrophages, hepatocyte proliferation, decreased hepatocyte apoptosis and decreased ductular reaction. In conclusion, during early fibrogenesis, HCV NS3/4A contributes to liver damage. While, during chronic liver fibrosis, NS3/4A dampens inflammation and induces hepatocyte regeneration thereby contributing to slow fibrosis progression to promote its survival or persistence.
Bansal, R., Frelin, L., Brenndörfer, E. D., Storm, G., Prakash, J., & Sällberg, M. (2015). Hepatitis C virus nonstructural 3/4A protein dampens inflammation and contributes to slow fibrosis progression during chronic fibrosis in vivo. PLoS ONE, 10(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0128466