Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a serious global health problem which accounts for approximately 40% of chronic liver diseases worldwide. HCV frequently establishes a persistent infection, although it is recognized and targeted by innate immunity as well as cellular and humoral immune mechanisms. This suggests that HCV has developed powerful strategies to escape elimination by innate and adaptive immunity. HCV-induced liver injury is thought to be mainly immune-mediated rather than due to direct cytopathic effects of the virus. Hence, therapeutic strategies should target those mechanisms favoring viral persistence since unspecific enhancement of host antiviral immunity may theoretically also promote liver injury. The present review summarizes our current understanding of how the hepatitis C virus interferes with the innate antiviral host-response to establish persistent infection.
©2008 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York