Current status and future development of infectious cell-culture models for the major genotypes of hepatitis C virus: Essential tools in testing of antivirals and emerging vaccine strategies

39 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this review, we summarize the relevant scientific advances that led to the development of infectious cell culture systems for hepatitis C virus (HCV) with the corresponding challenges and successes. We also provide an overview of how these systems have contributed to the study of antiviral compounds and their relevance for the development of a much-needed vaccine against this major human pathogen. An efficient infectious system to study HCV in vitro, using human hepatoma derived cells, has only been available since 2005, and was limited to a single isolate, named JFH1, until 2012. Successive developments have been slow and cumbersome, as each available system has been the result of a systematic effort for discovering adaptive mutations conferring culture replication and propagation to patient consensus clones that are inherently non-viable in vitro. High genetic heterogeneity is a paramount characteristic of this virus, and as such, it should preferably be reflected in basic, translational, and clinical studies. The limited number of efficient viral culture systems, in the context of the vast genetic diversity of HCV, continues to represent a major hindrance for the study of this virus, posing a significant barrier towards studies of antivirals (particularly of resistance) and for advancing vaccine development. Intensive research efforts, driven by isolate-specific culture adaptation, have only led to efficient full-length infectious culture systems for a few strains of HCV genotypes 1, 2, 3, and 6. Hence research aimed at identifying novel strategies that will permit universal culture of HCV will be needed to further our understanding of this unique virus causing 400 thousand deaths annually.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAntiviral Research
Volume158
Pages (from-to)264-287
ISSN0166-3542
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018

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