Cytokines and HCV-related disorders

Clin Dev Immunol. 2012;2012:468107. doi: 10.1155/2012/468107. Epub 2012 May 7.


Cytokines are intercellular mediators involved in viral control and liver damage being induced by infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV). The complex cytokine network operating during initial infection allows a coordinated, effective development of both innate and adaptive immune responses. However, HCV interferes with cytokines at various levels and escapes immune response by inducing a T-helper (Th)2/T cytotoxic 2 cytokine profile. Inability to control infection leads to the recruitment of inflammatory infiltrates into the liver parenchyma by interferon (IFN)-gamma-inducible CXC chemokine ligand (CXCL)-9, -10, and -11 chemokines, which results in sustained liver damage and eventually in liver cirrhosis. The most important systemic HCV-related extrahepatic diseases--mixed cryoglobulinemia, lymphoproliferative disorders, thyroid autoimmune disorders, and type 2 diabetes--are associated with a complex dysregulation of the cytokine/chemokine network, involving proinflammatory and Th1 chemokines. The therapeutical administration of cytokines such as IFN-alpha may result in viral clearance during persistent infection and reverts this process.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmunity
  • Cytokines / immunology*
  • Hepacivirus / immunology*
  • Hepatitis C / complications
  • Hepatitis C / drug therapy
  • Hepatitis C / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune Evasion
  • Immunity
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use
  • Liver Cirrhosis / etiology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / immunology*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / prevention & control
  • Th1-Th2 Balance
  • Viral Load / drug effects


  • Cytokines
  • Interferon-alpha