CD8+ T lymphocyte responses are induced during acute hepatitis C virus infection but are not sustained

Eur J Immunol. 2000 Sep;30(9):2479-87. doi: 10.1002/1521-4141(200009)30:9<2479::AID-IMMU2479>3.0.CO;2-B.


Cellular immune responses are likely to play a key role in determining the clinical outcome in acute infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV), but the dynamics of such responses and their relationship to viral clearance are poorly understood. In a previous study we have shown highly activated, multispecific cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses arising early and persisting in an individual who subsequently cleared the virus. In this study the HCV-specific CD8+ lymphocytes response has been similarly analyzed, using peptide-HLA class I tetramers, in a further nine individuals with documented acute HCV infection, six of whom failed to clear the virus. Significant populations of virus-specific CD8+ lymphocytes were detected at the peak of acute hepatic illness (maximally 3.5% of CD8+ lymphocytes). Frequencies were commonly lower than those seen previously and were generally not sustained. Early HCV-specific CD8+ lymphocytes showed an activated phenotype in all patients (CD38+ and HLA class II+), but this activation was short-lived. Failure to sustain sufficient numbers of activated virus-specific CD8+ lymphocytes may contribute to persistence of HCV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Female
  • HLA-A2 Antigen / physiology
  • Hepatitis C / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • HLA-A2 Antigen
  • Alanine Transaminase