Hepatitis C virus particles and lipoprotein metabolism

Semin Liver Dis. 2005 Feb;25(1):93-104. doi: 10.1055/s-2005-864785.


The majority of infectious hepatitis C particles are present in the low-density fractions from plasma of infected patients, suggesting an association of the virus with lipoproteins and the use of lipoprotein receptors for cell entry. Although classical hepatitis C virus (HCV) virions have been reported by some investigators, their role in the HCV life cycle has not been clearly identified. Moreover, two other forms of particles have been characterized: low-density lipo-viro-particles (LVPs) and high-density particles. The latter are nonenveloped nucleocapsids that have immunoglobulin G Fcgamma binding capacity. LVPs are spherical particles enriched in triglycerides. At a minimum, they contain apolipoprotein B, HCV RNA, and core protein. The main source of LVPs is likely to be the enterocytes rather than the hepatocytes, suggesting an interaction between chylomicron and LVP assembly. In experimental systems, HCV core protein inhibits the microsomal triglyceride transfer protein, binds to apolipoprotein AII, and induces accumulation of cytoplasmic lipid droplets. A model of LVP and HCV core-lipid droplet generation is proposed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Hepacivirus / physiology*
  • Hepacivirus / ultrastructure
  • Hepatitis C / blood
  • Hepatitis C / virology
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins / metabolism*
  • RNA, Viral / metabolism
  • Viral Core Proteins / metabolism
  • Virus Assembly / physiology*


  • Lipoproteins
  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Core Proteins
  • nucleocapsid protein, Hepatitis C virus