Hepatitis E Virus Infection-Immune Responses to an Underestimated Global Threat.

Journal: Cells

Infection with the hepatitis E virus (HEV) is one of the main ubiquitous causes for developing an acute hepatitis. Moreover, chronification plays a predominant role in immunocompromised patients such as transplant recipients with more frequent severe courses. Unfortunately, besides reduction of immunosuppression and off-label use of ribavirin or pegylated interferon alfa, there is currently no specific anti-viral treatment to prevent disease progression. So far, research on involved immune mechanisms induced by HEV is limited. It is very difficult to collect clinical samples especially from the early phase of infection since this is often asymptomatic. Nevertheless, it is certain that the outcome of HEV-infected patients correlates with the strength of the proceeding immune response. Several lymphoid cells have been identified in contributing either to disease progression or achieving sustained virologic response. In particular, a sufficient immune control by both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells is necessary to prevent chronic viral replication. Especially the mechanisms underlying fulminant courses are poorly understood. However, liver biopsies indicate the involvement of cytotoxic T cells in liver damage. In this review, we aimed to highlight different parts of the lymphoid immune response against HEV and point out questions that remain unanswered regarding this underestimated global threat.

Paul Kupke, ens M Werner
Relevant Conditions

Hepatitis, Hepatitis E

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