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Hepatology. 2008 Sep;48(3):713-22. doi: 10.1002/hep.22379.

Selection of high-avidity CD8 T cells correlates with control of hepatitis C virus infection.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, U892, Centre de Recherches en Cancérologie, Nantes, France.


Both strong antigenic avidity and acquisition of proper effector functions contribute to the efficacy of antiviral T cell responses. To correlate these parameters with the outcome of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, we characterized HCV-specific CD8 T cell lines isolated after immunomagnetic sorting of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from human leukocyte antigen A*02 (HLA-A*02) individuals with various HCV serological statuses, using recombinant HLA-A*0201 multimers loaded with three immunodominant HCV genotype 1-derived epitopes. CD8 T cells specific for these three epitopes were derived from most HLA-A*0201 individuals, regardless of their HCV serology or clinical outcome. Donors recovered from genotype 1 HCV infection were enriched for high-avidity T cells with enhanced interferon gamma (IFN-gamma), tumor necrosis factor alpha, and cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses, when compared with seronegative donors and seropositive patients infected with irrelevant HCV genotypes. Patients chronically infected with genotype 1 strain yielded almost exclusively low-avidity T cells, whose hyporesponsiveness was primarily attributable to low T cell receptor (TCR) avidity rather than intrinsic functional defects.


This study suggests that strong IFN-gamma responses associated with efficient viral clearance primarily result from Ag-driven selection/survival of HCV-specific T cells expressing high-avidity TCR. It also suggests a link between the quality of the initial HCV-specific T cell repertoire and susceptibility to chronic infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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