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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.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





654 - 666


Acute Disease, Adult, Aged, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Hepacivirus, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis C Antibodies, Hepatitis C, Chronic, Humans, Interferon-gamma, Lymphocyte Activation, Male, Middle Aged, Prognosis, RNA, Viral, Time Factors, United States, Virion