Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are global health problems affecting 600 million people worldwide. Indeed, HBV and HCV are hepatotropic viruses that can cause acute and chronic liver disease progressing to liver cirrhosis and even hepatocellular carcinoma. Furthermore, co-infections of HBV and HCV with HIV are emerging worldwide. These co-infections are even more likely to develop persistent infection and are difficult to treat. There is growing evidence that virus-specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell responses play a central role in the outcome and pathogenesis of HBV and HCV infection. While virus-specific T-cell responses are able to successfully clear the virus in a subpopulation of patients, failure of these T-cell responses is associated with the development of viral persistence. In this review article, we will discuss similarities and differences in HBV- and HCV-specific T-cell responses that are central in determining viral clearance, persistence and liver disease.
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