Mouse models of acute and chronic hepacivirus infection

Eva Billerbeck, Raphael Wolfisberg, Ulrik Fahnøe, Jing W. Xiao, Corrine Quirk, Joseph M. Luna, John M. Cullen, Alex S. Hartlage, Luis Chiriboga, Kalpana Ghoshal, W. Ian Lipkin, Jens Bukh, Troels K.H. Scheel, Amit Kapoor, Charles M. Rice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


An estimated 71 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). The lack of small-animal models has impeded studies of antiviral immune mechanisms. Here we show that an HCV-related hepacivirus discovered in Norway rats can establish high-titer hepatotropic infections in laboratory mice with immunological features resembling those seen in human viral hepatitis. Whereas immune-compromised mice developed persistent infection, immune-competent mice cleared the virus within 3 to 5 weeks. Acute clearance was T cell dependent and associated with liver injury. Transient depletion of CD4+ T cells before infection resulted in chronic infection, characterized by high levels of intrahepatic regulatory T cells and expression of inhibitory molecules on intrahepatic CD8+ T cells. Natural killer cells controlled early infection but were not essential for viral clearance. This model may provide mechanistic insights into hepatic antiviral immunity, a prerequisite for the development of HCV vaccines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-208
Number of pages5
Issue number6347
StatePublished - Jul 14 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Mouse models of acute and chronic hepacivirus infection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this