1887

Abstract

This paper investigates the role of CTL and antibody responses in hepatitis C virus (HCV) dynamics and pathology. Mathematical models suggest that a strong CTL response is required for resolution of HCV infection and that a weak CTL response can result in persistent infection. According to the model, establishment of persistent infection is accompanied mainly by an ongoing antibody response, while CTLs are not maintained at high levels. In the model, this outcome correlates with absence of pathology. Persistent infection in the face of an ongoing antibody response can result in evolution of antigenic escape. According to the model, evolution towards escape from antibodies can shift the balance of immune responses so that the weak CTL levels become increasingly more dominant relative to antibodies. This shift results in onset of liver pathology as the virus evolves towards increased levels of antigenic escape. Therefore, the relative balance of the immune response can be a decisive factor that determines whether patients are asymptomatic or whether pathology is observed. Virus evolution can shift this balance towards pathology over time. Theoretical results are discussed in the context of published data.

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2003-07-01
2020-12-04
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