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J Virol. 2005 Aug;79(15):9725-34.

Hepatitis C virus stimulates the expression of cyclooxygenase-2 via oxidative stress: role of prostaglandin E2 in RNA replication.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, 80262, USA.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major cause of chronic liver disease, which can lead to the development of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Recently, the activation of cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2) has been implicated in the HCV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma. In this study, we focus on the signaling pathway leading to Cox-2 activation induced by HCV gene expression. Here, we demonstrate that the HCV-induced reactive oxygen species and subsequent activation of NF-kappaB mediate the activation of Cox-2. The HCV-induced Cox-2 was sensitive to antioxidant (pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate), Ca(2+) chelator (BAPTA-AM), and calpain inhibitor (N-acetyl-Leu-Leu-Met-H). The levels of prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)), the product of Cox-2 activity, are increased in HCV-expressing cells. Furthermore, HCV-expressing cells treated with the inhibitors of Cox-2 (celecoxib and NS-398) showed significant reduction in PGE(2) levels. We also observed the enhanced phosphorylation of Akt and its downstream substrates glycogen synthase kinase-3beta and proapoptotic Bad in the HCV replicon-expressing cells. These phosphorylation events were sensitive to inhibitors of Cox-2 (celecoxib and NS-398) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (LY294002). Our results also suggest a potential role of Cox-2 and PGE(2) in HCV RNA replication. These studies provide insight into the mechanisms by which HCV induces intracellular events relevant to liver pathogenesis associated with viral infection.

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