Lipid droplets and hepatitis C virus infection

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Jun;1791(6):552-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2008.12.012. Epub 2009 Jan 3.


Lipid droplets play an important part in the life cycle of hepatitis C virus and also are markers for steatosis, which is a common condition that arises during infection. These storage organelles are targeted by the viral core protein, which forms the capsid shell. Attachment of core to lipid droplets requires a C-terminal domain within the protein that is highly conserved between different virus isolates. In infected cells, the presence of core on lipid droplets creates loci that contain viral RNA and non-structural proteins involved in genome replication. Such locations may represent sites for initiating assembly and production of nascent virions. In addition to utilising lipid droplets as part the virus life cycle, hepatitis C virus induces their accumulation in infected hepatocytes. The mechanisms involved in this process are not understood but evidence from patient-based studies and model systems suggests the involvement of both viral and host factors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism*
  • Fatty Liver / virology
  • Hepacivirus / growth & development
  • Hepacivirus / metabolism*
  • Hepacivirus / pathogenicity
  • Hepatitis C / complications
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis C / metabolism*
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Hepatocytes / virology
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism* / genetics
  • Models, Molecular
  • Organelles / metabolism*
  • Organelles / virology
  • Protein Conformation
  • Viral Core Proteins / chemistry
  • Viral Core Proteins / metabolism*
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins / metabolism
  • Virus Replication


  • NS-5 protein, hepatitis C virus
  • Viral Core Proteins
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins