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Primary cultures of human hepatocytes isolated from hepatitis C virus-infected cirrhotic livers as a model to study hepatitis C infection.

Raymond VA, Selliah S, Ethier C, Houle R, Jouan L, Maniere T, Lamarre D, Willems B, Bilodeau M

Laboratoire d'hépatologie cellulaire, Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM)-Hôpital Saint-Luc, Montréal, QC, Canada.

BACKGROUND/AIM: Since the discovery of hepatitis C virus (HCV), researchers have encountered difficulties with in vitro models. The aim of this study was to determine whether HCV-infected human primary hepatocytes, isolated from cirrhotic livers at liver transplantation, can be used as a model to study HCV infection. METHODS: Hepatocytes were isolated with collagenase and cultured over a 20-day period on different matrices. Viral kinetics was monitored with/without treatment by real-time polymerase chain reaction. RESULTS: Cell yield and viability were higher with uninfected/non-cirrhotic livers (77.2+/-1.8%) in comparison with HCV-infected cirrhotic livers (68.8+/-12%). HCV-infected hepatocytes behaved similar to non-infected cells and expressed albumin and cytochrome P4502E1. HCV-positive strand was identified in supernatants and cell lysates. HCV-negative strand was only found inside cells and correlated with viral RNA recovery in the medium. Improvement in the degree of hepatocyte differentiation was associated with better HCV recovery. Antiviral treatment with interferon-alpha, EX4 and cyclosporine A induced significant reductions in HCV RNA. CONCLUSION: Primary cultures of HCV-infected human hepatocytes from end-stage cirrhotic livers is feasible, represents an excellent model to study specific virus-host interactions and can be used to assess viral replication.

Liver Int. 2009;29(6):942-9.

Pubmed ID: 19302183

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