, Volume 47, Issue 12, pp 1323-1335
Date: 16 May 2012

Sequential immunological analysis of HBV/HCV co-infected patients during Peg-IFN/RBV therapy

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The immunopathogenesis of dual chronic infection with hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus (HBV/HCV) remains unclear. The in vivo suppressive effects of each virus on the other have been reported. In this study we aimed to analyze the virological and immunological parameters of HBV/HCV coinfected patients during pegylated interferon/ribavirin (Peg-IFN/RBV) therapy.


One patient with high HBV-DNA and high HCV-RNA titers (HBV-high/HCV-high) and 5 patients with low HBV-DNA and high HCV-RNA titers (HBV-low/HCV-high) were enrolled. Twenty patients monoinfected with HBV and 10 patients monoinfected with HCV were enrolled as control subjects.. In vitro cultures of Huh 7 cells with HBV/HCV dual infection were used to analyze the direct interaction of HBV/HCV.


Direct interaction of HBV clones and HCV could not be detected in the Huh-7 cells. In the HBV-high/HCV-high-patient, the HCV-RNA level gradually declined and HBV-DNA gradually increased during Peg-IFN/RBV therapy. Activated CD4- and CD8-positive T cells were increased at 1 month of Peg-IFN/RBV-therapy, but HBV-specific IFN-γ-secreting cells were not increased and HBV-specific interleukin (IL)-10 secreting cells were increased. The level of HBV- and HCV-specific IFN-γ-secreting cells in the HBV-high/HCV-high-patient was low in comparison to that in the HBV- or HCV-monoinfected patients. In the HBV-low/HCV-high-patient, HCV-RNA and HBV-DNA rapidly declined during Peg-IFN/RBV therapy. Activated CD4- and CD8-positive T cells were increased, and HBV- and HCV-specific IFN-γ-secreting cells were also increased during Peg-IFN/RBV-therapy.


The immunological responses of the HBV-high/HCV-high patient were low in comparison to the responses in HBV and HCV monoinfected patients. Moreover, the response of immune cells in the HBV-high/HCV-high patient during Peg-IFN/RBV therapy was insufficient to suppress HBV and HCV.