Prior studies seeking evidence of viral replication in peripheral lymphocytes of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected patients have yielded conflicting results. This study sought to quantitatively determine whether a permissive HCV cell interaction could be detected in leukocytes from infected patients. Peripheral leukocytes from chronically infected patients were purified and were tested for HCV RNA. The results show that virus load is highest in B cells. Other subsets of peripheral leukocytes consistently had very low levels of viral RNA or were negative. Negative-strand HCV was found only in hepatocytes. To determine whether HCV replication could be induced by activation, B cells from HCV-infected patients were stimulated in vitro. No HCV replicating in peripheral leukocytes was detected by a highly sensitive assay. If HCV replication occurs in the leukocyte subsets analyzed here, it is at extremely low levels or occurs under alternate physiological conditions.
View details for Web of Science ID 000171228400003
View details for PubMedID 11550124