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Only Fittest Hepatitis C Virus Strains Re-infect New Liver after Transplantation

SUMMARY: The most fit hepatitis C virus (HCV) variants -- which are able to evade host immune defenses, efficiently enter cells, and resist neutralization by antibodies -- are responsible for recurrent infection of the new liver after a transplant, according to a study reported in the August 16, 2010 advance online edition of the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Below is a media advisory from Rockefeller University Press, publisher of the journal, describing the study and its findings.

Fittest Hepatitis C Viruses Infect Transplanted Livers?

August 16, 2010 -- Not all viruses are created equal. In liver transplant patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, only viruses that can dodge the immune response invade the new liver, according to a study published on August 16 in The Journal of Experimental Medicine (

Chronic HCV infection is the leading indication for liver transplantation in the U.S. But installing a new liver does not cure disease; in fact, HCV infects the transplanted liver in nearly all patients. However, only a subset of the viruses present prior to transplantation show up in the new organ, according to a study lead by Francoise Stoll-Keller and Thomas Baumert at the University of Strasbourg in France. Compared to many of their pre-transplant brethren, the viruses that invaded the new organ infected liver cells more readily and were impervious to the antibodies that normally block infection.

In most patients, the post-transplant viruses had mutations in one region of the surface protein the virus uses to infect cells. Blocking this region may thus provide a new way to prevent reinfection after liver transplant.

About The Journal of Experimental Medicine

The Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM) is published by the Rockefeller University Press. All editorial decisions on manuscripts submitted are made by active scientists in conjunction with our in-house scientific editors. JEM content is posted to PubMed Central, where it is available to the public for free six months after publication. Authors retain copyright of their published works and third parties may reuse the content for non-commercial purposes under a creative commons license. For more information, please visit

Investigator affiliation: Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Unité 748, F-67000 Strasbourg, France; Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France; Laboratoire de Virologie, Pôle des Pathologies Digestives, Hépatiques et Transplantation, and Pôle Hépato-digestif, Hôpitaux Universitaires de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France; Center for Vaccinology, Ghent University and Hospital, 9000 Ghent, Belgium; Medical Research Council Centre for Virus Research, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, UK; Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Unité 758, Institut Fédératif de Recherche 128, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Université de Lyon, Lyon, France.


S Fafi-Kremer, I Fofana, E Soulier, and others. Viral entry and escape from antibody-mediated neutralization influence hepatitis C virus reinfection in liver transplantation. Journal of Experimental Medicine (Abstract). August 16, 2010 (Epub ahead of print).

Other Source
Rockefeller University Press. Fittest Hepatitis C Viruses Infect Transplanted Livers. Press release. August 16,2 010.






















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