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J Infect Dis. 2009 Nov 1;200(9):1397-401. doi: 10.1086/605889.

The HLA-E(R)/HLA-E(R) genotype affects the natural course of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and is associated with HLA-E-restricted recognition of an HCV-derived peptide by interferon-gamma-secreting human CD8(+) T cells.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.

Abstract

Recently, we showed chronic hepatitis C to be associated with increased expression of HLA-E and identified peptide hepatitis C virus (HCV) core amino acids 35-44 as a ligand for HLA-E that stabilizes HLA-E expression, favoring inhibition of natural killer cell cytotoxicity. Here we describe HLA-E-restricted recognition of peptide HCV core amino acids 35-44 by CD8(+) T cells. Frequency of HLA-E-restricted responses was significantly higher in patients homozygous for the HLA-E(R) allele (60% vs 38%; P = .038). Moreover, we found that the HLA-E(R) allelic variant confers protection against chronic infection with HCV genotypes 2 and 3. Taken together, our data indicate an important immunomodulating function of HLA-E in hepatitis C.

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