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J Virol. 1988 Nov;62(11):4136-43.

Hepatitis B virus infection of adult human hepatocytes cultured in the presence of dimethyl sulfoxide.

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INSERM Unité 49, Hôpital de Pontchaillou, Rennes, France.


We investigated the possibility of infecting normal adult human hepatocytes maintained in pure cultures or in cocultures with hepatitis B virus (HBV). Several assays with different infectious sera and hepatocyte populations from various donors identified only limited HBV replication, with significant variations from one cell preparation to another. The addition of 1.5% dimethyl sulfoxide to the culture medium markedly enhanced the infection process. Indeed, hepatitis B e antigen secretion, the appearance of both HBV DNA replicative forms and major HBV transcripts, and the release of complete HBV particles into the medium were demonstrated. It is possible that the significant increase in intracellular HBV DNA in dimethyl sulfoxide-treated cells was related to enhanced adsorption of the virus. When viral particles produced by a transfected HepG2 cell line were used to infect normal hepatocytes, the same results were obtained. In addition, comparative assays with hepatocytes from three different donors showed that although high amounts of intracellular viral DNA were found in all cases, viral replicative intermediates were visualized in only one case. These findings suggest that this HBV-producing cell line could serve as a reproducible source of infectious virus and that primary culturing of human hepatocytes represents a unique tool for analyzing intracellular regulating factors which, in addition to the penetration step, modulate HBV replication.

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