Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), as a major agent of non-A, non-B hepatitis (NANBH), has been described as an insidious disease and a silent epidemic, mainly because the infection is often sub-clinical. Acute infection is recognized in a minority of patients and in most cases the virus results in chronic infections taking 10-20 years before the emergence of liver disease. In the US, almost four million individuals are infected and up to 170 million worldwide.
An imbalance in helper T-cell type-1 (Th1) and type-2 (Th2) cytokines has been suggested as playing an important role in the cause of chronic viral infections, but this issue is not resolved in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Inflammation of the portal and portal areas is a common feature of chronic hepatitis C. Antigen presenting dendritic, or “tree-like,” cells are located in the portal area, and infiltrating T-cells are initially exposed to infected hepatocytes in the peripheral area. Thus, these areas could be sites of the initial processes of the immune response in chronic hepatitis C.
Donna Krupa | American Physiological Society
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