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Viruses 2018, 10(11), 645;

HCV-Specific T Cell Responses During and After Chronic HCV Infection

Department of Medicine II, Medical Center—University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, 79106 Freiburg, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 October 2018 / Revised: 14 November 2018 / Accepted: 15 November 2018 / Published: 17 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cure of Hepatitis C Virus Infection and Hepatocellular Carcinoma)
PDF [718 KB, uploaded 17 November 2018]


Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-specific T cell responses are closely linked to the clinical course of infection. While T cell responses in self-limiting infection are typically broad and multi-specific, they display several distinct features of functional impairment in the chronic phase. Moreover, HCV readily adapts to immune pressure by developing escape mutations within epitopes targeted by T cells. Much of our current knowledge on HCV-specific T cell responses has been gathered under the assumption that this might eventually pave the way for a therapeutic vaccine. However, with the development of highly efficient direct acting antivirals (DAAs), there is less interest in the development of a therapeutic vaccine for HCV and the scope of T cell research has shifted. Indeed, the possibility to rapidly eradicate an antigen that has persisted over years or decades, and has led to T cell exhaustion and dysfunction, provides the unique opportunity to study potential T cell recovery after antigen cessation in a human in vivo setting. Findings from such studies not only improve our basic understanding of T cell immunity but may also advance immunotherapeutic approaches in cancer or chronic hepatitis B and D infection. Moreover, in order to edge closer to the WHO goal of HCV elimination by 2030, a prophylactic vaccine is clearly required. Thus, in this review, we will summarize our current knowledge on HCV-specific T cell responses and also provide an outlook on the open questions that require answers in this field. View Full-Text
Keywords: viral hepatitis; hepatitis c; antiviral immunity; direct acting antivirals; T cells viral hepatitis; hepatitis c; antiviral immunity; direct acting antivirals; T cells

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Luxenburger, H.; Neumann-Haefelin, C.; Thimme, R.; Boettler, T. HCV-Specific T Cell Responses During and After Chronic HCV Infection. Viruses 2018, 10, 645.

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