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Gastroenterology. 2012 May;142(6):1279-1287.e3. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2012.02.016.

Animal models for the study of hepatitis C virus infection and related liver disease.

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Copenhagen Hepatitis C Program (CO-HEP), Department of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Research Centre, Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre, Denmark.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) causes liver-related death in more than 300,000 people annually. Treatments for patients with chronic HCV are suboptimal, despite the introduction of directly acting antiviral agents. There is no vaccine that prevents HCV infection. Relevant animal models are important for HCV research and development of drugs and vaccines. Chimpanzees are the best model for studies of HCV infection and related innate and adaptive host immune responses. They can be used in immunogenicity and efficacy studies of HCV vaccines. The only small animal models of robust HCV infection are T- and B- cell deficient mice with human chimeric livers. Although these mice cannot be used in studies of adaptive immunity, they have provided new insights into HCV neutralization, interactions between virus and receptors, innate host responses, and therapeutic approaches. Recent progress in developing genetically humanized mice is exciting, but these models only permit studies of specific steps in the HCV life cycle and have limited or no viral replication.

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