Lack of protective immunity against reinfection with hepatitis C virus

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Science  02 Oct 1992:
Vol. 258, Issue 5079, pp. 135-140
DOI: 10.1126/science.1279801


Some individuals infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) experience multiple episodes of acute hepatitis. It is unclear whether these episodes are due to reinfection with HCV or to reactivation of the original virus infection. Markers of viral replication and host immunity were studied in five chimpanzees sequentially inoculated over a period of 3 years with different HCV strains of proven infectivity. Each rechallenge of a convalescent chimpanzee with the same or a different HCV strain resulted in the reappearance of viremia, which was due to infection with the subsequent challenge virus. The evidence indicates that HCV infection does not elicit protective immunity against reinfection with homologous or heterologous strains, which raises concerns for the development of effective vaccines against HCV.

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