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J Infect Dis. 1990 Jun;161(6):1121-7.

Expression of infectious viral particles by primary chimpanzee hepatocytes isolated during the acute phase of non-A, non-B hepatitis.

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  • 1Department of Virology and Immunology, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, San Antonio, TX 78284.


Liver wedge biopsies were obtained from chimpanzees during the acute phase of experimental non-A, non-B hepatitis infections. Primary chimpanzee hepatocytes were maintained for over 4 weeks in vitro with a serum-free medium supplemented with growth factors and hormones. The de novo synthesis and secretion of plasma proteins characteristic for differentiated primate hepatocytes were sustained under these culture conditions. Immunocytochemical staining for a non-A, non-B hepatitis-associated antigen revealed expression of this cytoplasmic marker during the culture period, indicating a persistence of the infection in vitro. Tissue culture medium derived from the hepatocyte cultures was used to inoculate a nonimmune chimpanzee. The animal subsequently displayed an increase in the serum levels of alanine aminotransferase, the development of histopathologic alterations indicative of viral hepatitis, and the appearance of liver cell cytoplasmic tubules diagnostic for non-A, non-B hepatitis. Concentrated tissue culture medium examined by electron microscopy contained virus-like particles with an average diameter of 39-46 nm, which exhibited an envelope and inner 37-nm core structure.

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