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HCV in Patients With Sustained Response Still Infective

Last Updated: May 15, 2009.

Trace quantities of hepatitis C virus from patients with long-resolved chronic hepatitis C infection may still be infective, according to a study published in the May issue of Hepatology.

FRIDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- Trace quantities of hepatitis C virus (HCV) from patients with long-resolved chronic hepatitis C infection may still be infective, according to a study published in the May issue of Hepatology.

Sonya A. MacParland, Ph.D., of Memorial University in St. Johns, Canada, and colleagues exposed naive lymphoid cells from healthy donors who had no history of HCV exposure to plasma and/or supernatants from nine patients who had achieved a sustained virologic response for 24 to 72 months after treatment with either interferon-alpha or interferon-alpha with ribavirin.

The researchers found that 11 of the 12 established cultures became hepatitis C RNA-positive strand-reactive, and four of them expressed the virus replicative strand as well. HCV from three of the nine patients caused a productive in vitro infection.

"Our present findings reveal that HCV circulating in some individuals with resolved hepatitis C is capable of inducing productive infection in vitro at doses of 20 to 50 copies," the authors write. "This can be interpreted as a strong indication of potential virus infectivity in vivo. In future studies, it would be of interest to determine the molecular mechanisms explaining why HCV circulating in some individuals, but not in others, is infectious to T cells despite comparable levels of virus being present."

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