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Study details hepatitis C ability to block immune system response

itis C virus inhibits the activity of naturally occurring interferon by shutting down a key antiviral signaling protein.

Early after HCV infection, the immune system responds to viral RNA by activating a signaling cascade in the infected cells that results in the production of type 1 interferon. One of the intermediaries in that cascade is a mitochondrial antiviral signaling protein (MAVS). HCV blocks the production of type1 interferon by using its protease activity to destroy MAVS. By preventing infected cells from producing interferon, the virus inhibits the body's immune response against HCV, enabling it to persist.

"Our new work shows that HCV does not induce interferon-? or antiviral interferon stimulated genes in the infected cells," Chisari said. "This means that the antiviral interferon stimulated genes expressed in the HCV-infected liver are likely produced by uninfected cells in some novel fashion and that the virus has other tricks up its sleeve that makes it resistant to their antiviral effects. Further study is needed to understand which cells in the liver produce the interferon and how the virus can resist the broad spectrum of these antiviral effects."

The knowledge gained from fundamental studies such as these could lay the groundwork for the development of potential new treatment strategies for this devastating global disease.


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Source:Scripps Research Institute


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