Hepatitis C virus evasion mechanisms from neutralizing antibodies

Viruses. 2011 Nov;3(11):2280-300. doi: 10.3390/v3112280. Epub 2011 Nov 15.

Abstract

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) represents a major public health problem, affecting 3% of the world's population. The majority of infected individuals develop chronic hepatitis, which can progress to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. To date, a vaccine is not available and current therapy is limited by resistance, adverse effects and high costs. Although it is very well established that cell-mediated immunity is necessary for viral clearance, the importance of host antibodies in clearing HCV infection is being increasingly recognized. Indeed, recent studies indicate that neutralizing antibodies are induced in the early phase of infection by patients who subsequently clear viral infection. Conversely, patients who do not clear the virus develop high titers of neutralizing antibodies during the chronic stage. Surprisingly, these antibodies are not able to control HCV infection. HCV has therefore developed mechanisms to evade immune elimination, allowing it to persist in the majority of infected individuals. A detailed understanding of the mechanisms by which the virus escapes immune surveillance is therefore necessary if novel preventive and therapeutic treatments have to be designed. This review summarizes the current knowledge of the mechanisms used by HCV to evade host neutralizing antibodies.

Keywords: hepatitis C virus; immune evasion; neutralizing antibodies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology*
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepacivirus / immunology*
  • Hepatitis C / immunology*
  • Hepatitis C / virology
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune Evasion*

Substances

  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies