A compound that naturally occurs in grapefruit and other citrus fruits may be able to block the secretion of hepatitis C virus (HCV) from infected cells, a process required to maintain chronic infection. A team of researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Engineering in Medicine (MGH-CEM) report that HCV is bound to very low-density lipoprotein (vLDL, a so-called bad cholesterol) when it is secreted from liver cells and that the viral secretion required to pass infection to other cells may be blocked by the common flavonoid naringenin.
If the results of this study extend to human patients, a combination of naringenin and antiviral medication might allow patient to clear the virus from their livers. The report will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Hepatology and has been released online.
By finding that HCV is secreted from infected cells by latching onto vLDL, we have identified a key pathway in the viral lifecycle, says Yaakov Nahmias, PhD, of the MGH-CEM, the papers lead author. These results suggest that lipid-lowering drugs, as well as supplements, such as naringenin, may be combined with traditional antiviral therapies to reduce or even eliminate HCV from infected patients
HCV is the leading cause of chronic viral liver disease in the United States and infects about 3 percent of the world population. Current antiviral medications are effective in only half of infected patients, 70 percent of whom develop chronic infection that can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer. Since the virus does not integrate its genetic material into the DNA of infected cells the way HIV does, totally clearing the virus could be possible if new cells were not being infected by secreted virus.
Identifying the route by which HCV is released from cells introduces a new therapeutic target, says Martin Yarmush, MD, PhD, director of the MGH-CEM and the papers senior author. That pathways dependence on cholesterol m
|Contact: Sue McGreevey|
Massachusetts General Hospital