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J Hepatol. 2003 Sep;39(3):397-404.

Antiviral treatment of recurrent hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection after liver transplantation: association of a strong, multispecific, and long-lasting CD4+ T cell response with HCV-elimination.

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  • 1Department of Medicine II, Klinikum Grosshadern, University of Munich, Marchioninistrasse 15, D-81377 Munich, Germany.



Patients with recurrent hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infection after liver transplantation (OLTx) could develop an early, multispecific, preferentially intrahepatic CD4+ T cell response. We asked now whether there is a correlation between the HCV-specific CD4+ T cell response and treatment outcome in patients who receive interferon (IFN)-alpha/ribavirin.


Liver- and blood-derived T cell lines of 20 patients were studied in parallel before, under, at the end and after antiviral treatment. Virus-specific IFN-gamma production at a single cell level to HCV-proteins (core, non-structural protein (NS)3/4, NS5) was determined by enzyme-linked immunospot assay.


In 6/7 non-responders a weak HCV-specific CD4+ T cell response was detectable. All six sustained responders developed a strong, at NS3/4 and NS5 directed and long-lasting CD4+ T cell response which was mainly detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. This reaction was significantly stronger: (1) in the responders than in the non-responders; and (2) within the responders at the end of treatment than before (P<0.03). Seven transient-responders showed a weak and/or transient HCV-specific CD4+ T cell response.


In patients with recurrent HCV-infection after OLTx, who receive antiviral treatment, a strong, at NS3/4 and NS5 directed and long-lasting CD4+ T cell response is associated with HCV-elimination whereas no or a weak/transient response is associated with treatment failure.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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