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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2010 Oct;299(4):G844-54. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00200.2010. Epub 2010 Jul 22.

Lipoprotein profiles in SCID/uPA mice transplanted with human hepatocytes become human-like and correlate with HCV infection success.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology and Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology,Katz Centre for Pharmacy and Health Research,National Canadian Research Training Program in Hepatitis C, Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, Hopital Saint-Luc, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Erratum in

  • Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2011 Jan;300(1):G190. Douglas, Donna [added]Tyrrell, D Lorne J [corrected to Tyrrell, D Lorne].


Although multiple determinants for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are known, it remains partly unclear what determines the human specificity of HCV infection. Presumably, the presence of appropriate entry receptors is essential, and this may explain why HCV is unable to infect nonhuman hepatocytes. However, using mice with chimeric human livers, we show in this study that the presence of human hepatocytes, and therefore human entry receptors, is not sufficient for HCV infection. In successfully transplanted SCID/Alb-uPA mice, infection with HCV is reliable only when ∼70-80% of the liver consists of human hepatocytes. We show that chimeric mice, which are hard to infect with HCV, have significant groups of human hepatocytes that are readily infected with hepatitis B virus. Thus it is unlikely that the lack of infection with HCV can simply be attributed to low hepatocyte numbers. We investigated whether the humanization of lipoprotein profiles is positively associated with infection success. We show that the lipoprotein profiles of chimeric mice become more human-like at high levels of engraftment of human hepatocytes. This and expression of markers of human lipoprotein biosynthesis, human apolipoprotein B (ApoB) and cholesterol ester transfer protein (CETP), show a strong positive correlation with successful infection. Association of HCV in the blood of chimeric mice to ApoB-containing lipoproteins is comparable to association of HCV in patient serum and provides further support for a critical role for ApoB-containing lipoproteins in the infectious cycle of HCV. Our data suggest that the weakest link in the HCV infection chain does not appear to be the presence of human hepatocytes per se. We believe that HCV infection also depends on the presence of sufficient levels of human lipoproteins.

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