Part of the book: Liver Biopsy in Modern Medicine
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is not only a hepatotropic but also a lymphotropic virus. Infection of the immune system appears to be a natural propensity of HCV and, as the accumulated data indicate, a common characteristic of both symptomatic and clinically silent but molecularly evident infection known as occult infection. The ability of HCV to infect cells of the immune system is consistent with a significantly greater prevalence of certain lymphoproliferative disorders in HCV-infected patients, such as mixed cryoglobulinemia and B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This chapter recapitulates the approaches used to detect HCV and its replication within lymphoid cells, features of HCV compartmentalization in the lymphatic system and in different types of immune cells, and the cell culture models developed to study HCV lymphotropism. In addition, the characteristics of the molecules recently identified as those specifically mediating HCV entry leading to virus replication in B and T lymphocytes, which are distinct from those involved in virus entry to hepatocytes, are presented. Finally, the biological impact of HCV lymphotropism on the function of immune cells, virus persistence, and immune cell proliferation and lymphomagenesis is summarized.
Part of the book: Hepatitis C