Innate host response in primary human hepatocytes with hepatitis C virus infection

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BACKGROUND AND AIM: The interaction between hepatitis C virus (HCV) and innate antiviral defense systems in primary human hepatocytes is not well understood. The objective of this study is to examine how primary human hepatocytes response to HCV infection.<br /><br />METHODS: An infectious HCV isolate JFH1 was used to infect isolated primary human hepatocytes. HCV RNA or NS5A protein in the cells was detected by real-time PCR or immunofluorescence staining respectively. Apoptosis was examined with flow cytometry. Mechanisms of HCV-induced IFN-β expression and apoptosis were determined.<br /><br />RESULTS: Primary human hepatocytes were susceptible to JFH1 virus and released infectious virus. IFN-α inhibited viral RNA replication in the cells. IFN-β and interferon-stimulated genes were induced in the cells during acute infection. HCV infection induced apoptosis of primary human hepatocytes through the TRAIL-mediated pathway. Silencing RIG-I expression in primary human hepatocytes inhibited IFN-β and TRAIL expression and blocked apoptosis of the cells, which facilitated viral RNA replication in the cells. Moreover, HCV NS34A protein inhibited viral induced IFN-β expression in primary human hepatocytes.<br /><br />CONCLUSION: Innate host response is intact in HCV-infected primary human hepatocytes. RIG-I plays a key role in the induction of IFN and TRAIL by viruses and apoptosis of primary human hepatocytes via activation of the TRAIL-mediated pathway. HCV NS34A protein appears to be capable of disrupting the innate antiviral host responses in primary human hepatocytes. Our study provides a novel mechanism by which primary human hepatocytes respond to natural HCV infection.




Yang, D., Liu, N., Zuo, C., Lei, S., Wu, X., Zhou, F., … Zhu, H. (2011). Innate host response in primary human hepatocytes with hepatitis C virus infection. PLoS ONE, 6(11).

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