Published online Feb 27, 2018. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v10.i2.186
Peer-review started: December 5, 2017
First decision: December 11, 2017
Revised: January 11, 2018
Accepted: February 7, 2018
Article in press: February 7, 2018
Published online: February 27, 2018
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of liver diseases including liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Approximately 3% of the world population is infected with HCV. Thus, HCV infection is considered a public healthy challenge. It is worth mentioning, that the HCV prevalence is dependent on the countries with infection rates around 20% in high endemic countries. The review summarizes recent data on HCV molecular biology, the physiopathology of infection (immune-mediated liver damage, liver fibrosis and lipid metabolism), virus diagnostic and treatment. In addition, currently available in vitro, ex vivo and animal models to study the virus life cycle, virus pathogenesis and therapy are described. Understanding of both host and viral factors may in the future lead to creation of new approaches in generation of an efficient therapeutic vaccine.
Core tip: Brief overviews on epidemiology of hepatitis C virus (HCV), virus morphology and the virus life cycle are presented. A special attention was focused on in vitro and in vivo models that are currently used to study the HCV infection. In fact, extensive use of existing models and creating a new ones is a way to reveal important events in the virus-cell interaction. In particular, the models might shed light on the mechanisms behind virus induced pathogenesis and chronicity, and by that contribute to the development of new drugs and prophylactic vaccine. Recently, multiple therapies with a pan-genotypic activity appeared on the market. The new agents (third generation) and new inhibitors (entry inhibitors, release inhibitors) being studied, should allow to cure most of the patients in the mid-term, if they will have equal access to the therapy.