Discordant role of CD4 T-cell response relative to neutralizing antibody and CD8 T-cell responses in acute hepatitis C.
Kaplan DE., Sugimoto K., Newton K., Valiga ME., Ikeda F., Aytaman A., Nunes FA., Lucey MR., Vance BA., Vonderheide RH., Reddy KR., McKeating JA., Chang K-M.
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection becomes chronic in the majority of patients. Although HCV-specific CD4 T-cell response is associated with HCV clearance, less is known about virus-specific CD8 T-cell or neutralizing antibody (nAb) responses and the role of CD4 help in their induction during acute infection. METHODS: HCV-specific CD4, CD8, and HCV pseudoparticle (HCVpp) nAb responses were monitored in acutely HCV-infected patients to define their relative contributions to viral clearance. RESULTS: Our results show that the outcome of acute hepatitis C is associated with a functional hierarchy in HCV-specific CD4 T-cell response and the scope of virus-specific, total T-cell interferon-gamma response. HCV-specific CD8 T-cell response was readily detectable in acutely HCV-infected patients regardless of virologic outcome or virus-specific CD4 T-cell response. In contrast, HCVpp-specific nAbs were readily detected in patients with chronic evolution and impaired virus-specific CD4 T-cell response but not in patients who cleared infection with robust virus-specific CD4 T-cell response. CONCLUSIONS: The outcome of acute hepatitis C is associated with efficient virus-specific CD4 T-cell response(s) without which HCV-specific CD8 T-cell and heterologous nAb responses may develop but fail to clear viremia. Furthermore, HCV-specific nAb responses may not be induced despite robust virus-specific CD4 T-cell response.