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HCV Persistence and Immune Evasion in the Absence of Memory T Cell Help

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Science  24 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5645, pp. 659-662
DOI: 10.1126/science.1088774

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Abstract

Spontaneous resolution of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in humans usually affords long-term immunity to persistent viremia and associated liver diseases. Here, we report that memory CD4+ Tcells are essential for this protection. Antibody-mediated depletion of CD4+ Tcells before reinfection of two immune chimpanzees resulted in persistent, low-level viremia despite functional intra-hepatic memory CD8+ Tcell responses. Incomplete control of HCV replication by memory CD8+ Tcells in the absence of adequate CD4+ Tcell help was associated with emergence of viral escape mutations in class I major histocompatibility complex–restricted epitopes and failure to resolve HCV infection.

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