Purpose of review: The goal of this study is to review key recent findings related to the immunopathogenesis of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, especially in regards to T lymphocytes. It aims to complement other reviews in this issue on the roles of host genetics (IL-28B), acute HCV infection (when disease outcome is determined) and other factors that may influence fibrosis progression (microbial translocation). The main focus is on specific immunity and T cells in the context of success and failure to control viral infection.
Recent findings: This review focuses on two areas of intense interest in the recent literature: the relationship between the human leukocyte antigen (HLA), class I-restricted T-cell responses and the evolution of the virus and the role of inhibitory markers on T cells in the immunopathogenesis of HCV. When appropriate, we compare findings from studies of HIV-specific immunity.
Summary: From examining the virus and the mutational changes associated with T-cell responses and from analyzing the markers on T cells, there have been numerous advances in the understanding of immune evasion mechanisms employed by HCV.