Published online Sep 28, 2007. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v13.i36.4824
Revised: July 2, 2007
Accepted: July 9, 2007
Published online: September 28, 2007
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of hepatitis world-wide. The majority of infected individuals develop chronic hepatitis which can then progress to liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Spontaneous viral clearance occurs in about 20%-30% of acutely infected individuals and results in resolution of infection without sequaelae. Both viral and host factors appear to play an important role for resolution of acute infection. A large body of evidence suggests that a strong, multispecific and long-lasting cellular immune response appears to be important for control of viral infection in acute hepatitis C. Due too the lack of convenient neutralization assays, the impact of neutralizing responses for control of viral infection had been less defined. In recent years, the development of robust tissue culture model systems for HCV entry and infection has finally allowed study of antibody-mediated neutralization and to gain further insights into viral targets of host neutralizing responses. In addition, detailed analysis of antibody-mediated neutralization in individual patients as well as cohorts with well defined viral isolates has enabled the study of neutralizing responses in the course of HCV infection and characterization of the impact of neutralizing antibodies for control of viral infection. This review will summarize recent progress in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of antibody-mediated neutralization and its impact for HCV pathogenesis.