Association of hepatitis C virus-specific CD8+ T cells with viral clearance in acute hepatitis C

J Infect Dis. 2000 May;181(5):1528-36. doi: 10.1086/315450. Epub 2000 May 5.


CD8+ T lymphocytes play a major role in antiviral immune defense. Their significance for acute hepatitis C is unclear. Our aim was to correlate the CD8+ T cell response with the outcome of infection. Eighteen patients with acute hepatitis C and 19 normal donors were studied. Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-specific CD8+ T cells were identified in the enzyme-linked immunospot assay by their interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) production after specific stimulation. The highest numbers of IFN-gamma-producing HCV-specific CD8+ T cells were found in patients with acute hepatitis C and a self-limited course of disease during the first 6 months after onset of disease, but these numbers dropped thereafter to undetectable levels. The differences in responsiveness between patients with self-limited disease versus patients with a chronic course were statistically significant (P<.001). Our data show that the number of IFN-gamma-producing HCV-specific CD8+ T cells during the first 6 months after onset of disease is associated with eradication of the HCV infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Female
  • Hepacivirus / immunology*
  • Hepatitis C / immunology*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / immunology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / blood
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Reference Values
  • Viral Proteins / biosynthesis


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Viral Proteins
  • Interferon-gamma