, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 290-296

Establishment and characterization of NS3 protein-specific T-cell clones from a patient with chronic hepatitis C

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Our previous study showed dominant proliferative response of peripheral mononuclear cells to hepatitis C virus (HCV) nonstructural (NS-3) (T9, from aa 1188 to 1493) in chronically infected patients. Six T9-specific T-cell clones derived in an HCV patient were established and studied for the antigen specificity and the ability of augmentation of in vitro antibody production. All these cloned T-cell lines responded exclusively to T9 antigen and could help autologous B cells in producing anti-T9 antibody in vitro. Cytokine mRNAs of these T cells was detected by polymerase chain reaction and predominant IL-2 and IFN-γ production was noted. In addition, further elucidation of T-cell antigenic determinant and MHC restriction suggested that these T-cell clones recognized at least two different T-cell antigenic determinants within the NS-3 region in an HLA DQ2-restricted manner. We believe characterization of HCV-specific T-cell responses, especially T-cell epitope mapping and cytokine production pattern, may shed light on further understanding the pathogenic mechanism and designing therapy for HCV infection.