Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of chronic hepatitis worldwide, which finally leads to development of hepatocellular carcinoma. Chronic hepatitis C is characterized by several histological features in the liver which discriminate it from other forms of hepatitis: bile duct damage, lymphoid follicles and steatosis (fatty change). Little is known, however, about the role of HCV or its viral proteins in the pathogenesis of hepatitis. Recently, the core protein of HCV has been suggested to have a transcriptional regulatory function, and thereby to be involved in inducing phenotypic changes in hepatocytes. To clarify whether or not the HCV core protein has an effect on pathological phenotypes in the liver, two independent transgenic mouse lines carrying the HCV core gene were established. These mice developed progressive hepatic steatosis, indicating that the HCV core protein plays a direct role in the development of hepatic steatosis, which characterizes hepatitis C. This transgenic mouse system would be a good animal model for the study of pathogenesis in human HCV infection.


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