HCV infection enhances Th17 commitment, which could affect the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases

Yasuteru Kondo, Masashi Ninomiya, Osamu Kimura, Keigo Machida, Ryo Funayama, Takeshi Nagashima, Koju Kobayashi, Eiji Kakazu, Takanobu Kato, Keiko Nakayama, Michael M.C. Lai, Tooru Shimosegawa

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Various kinds of autoimmune diseases have been reported to have a significant relationship with persistent hepatitis c virus (HCV) infection and Th17 cells. Previously, our group reported that the existence of HCV in T lymphocytes could affect the development of CD4+ helper T cells and their proliferation, in addition to the induction of immunoglobulin hyper-mutation. Methods: Therefore, we analyzed the relationship between persistent infection of HCV and the mechanism of Th17 cell induction ex vivo and in vitro. Results: The prevalence of autoimmune-related diseases in chronic hepatitis c patients (CH-C) was significantly higher than in other types of chronic hepatitis (hepatitis B and NASH). A significantly higher frequency of IL6 and TGF-β double-high patients was detected in CH-C than in other liver diseases. Moreover, these double-high patients had significantly higher positivity of anti-nuclear antibody, cryoglobulinemia, and lymphotropic HCV and higher amounts of IL1-β, IL21, IL23. In addition to the previously reported lymphotropic SB-HCV strain, we found a novel, genotype 1b lymphotropic HCV (Ly-HCV), by deep sequencing analysis. Lymphotropic-HCV replication could be detected in the lymphoid cells with various kinds of cytokine-conditions including IL1β, IL23, IL6 and TGF-β in vitro. Infection by HCV could significantly enhance the development of Th17 cells. The HCV protein responsible for inducing the Th17 cells was HCV-Core protein, which could enhance the STAT-3 signaling and up-regulate the expression of RORγt as a Th17 master gene. Conclusion: Infection by lymphotropic HCV might enhance the Th17 development and contribute to understanding the pathogenesis of autoimmune-related diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere98521
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jun 6


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