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Lipid Droplets Accumulation during Hepatitis C Virus Infection in Cell-Culture Varies among Genotype 1-3 Strains and Does Not Correlate with Virus Replication

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Liver steatosis is a common complication of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, which can result in accelerated liver fibrosis development, especially in patients infected with genotype 3a. The precise mechanisms of HCV-induced liver steatosis remain unclear, but it is often posited that increased intracellular lipid accumulation is the underlying cause of steatosis. To study experimentally how HCV infection in human liver derived cells by different genotypes and subtypes might affect lipid accumulation, we performed detailed cytofluorimetric and microscopy analyses of intracellular lipid droplets (LDs) in relation to the viral Core and to cell endoplasmic reticulum proteins. Following culture infection with HCV genotype 1a, 2a, 2b, 2c, and 3a strains, we found variable levels of intracellular LDs accumulation, associated to the infecting strain rather than to the specific genotype. Although two genotype 3a strains showed high levels of lipid accumulation, as previously observed, some strains of other genotypes displayed a similar phenotype. Moreover, the analyses of LDs size, number, and shape indicated that the apparent increase in lipid accumulation is due to an increase in the overall number rather than in the size of droplets. Finally, differences in total lipid content across genotypes did not correlate to differences in Core distribution nor Core levels. In conclusion, our study provides a quantitative in-depth analysis of the effect of HCV infection on LDs accumulation in cell-culture.

Original languageEnglish
Article number389
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

This record is sourced from MEDLINE/PubMed, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

    Research areas

  • HCV, assembly, cell-culture, core, genotype, hepatitis, lipid droplet, microscopy

ID: 64082403