-«-Non structural-►

Figure. 1 The hepatitis C virus genome. c22, c33 and c100 refer to the location of antigens used in diagnostic assays for the detection of anti-HCV.

structural (NS3, NS4) HCV-derived proteins have been identified in cells from both peripheral blood and liver tissue of anti-HCV positive individuals. Which (if any) of these responses correlate with clearance of virus, or at least with lack of progression of liver disease, is unclear. Preliminary data suggest that chronic progressive liver disease may be associated with T,,2 patterns of cytokine production from liver-derived T cells. HCV-specific cytotoxic CD8 + T lymphocytes (CTL) have also been identified in HCV-infected individuals, but again, variable results have been reported. Some groups suggest that these cells may be compartmentalized within liver tissue, but others have no apparent difficulty in finding such cells within peripheral blood. Lack of standardization of experimental assays may underlie these discrepancies. Target epitopes within both structural and nonstructural proteins have been mapped.

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