, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 148-156

Acute hepatitis C infection: Can immunology teach us the right way to treat?

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Abstract

Management of acute hepatitis C has been discussed controversially in recent years. Early administration of interferon alpha prevents chronicity in almost all cases. However, interferon treatment is associated with significant side effects and costs; thus, alternative treatment strategies were also investigated. These data also suggested that a delayed therapy may cure the infection in 80% to 90% of cases. A detailed understanding of the pathophysiologic mechanisms of acute hepatitis C virus infection may help to find the best way to treat our patients. It has been shown that antiviral humoral and cellular immune responses may influence the outcome of the disease. While a weak T-cell immunity is associated with chronicity, a strong and multispecific cellular immune response is observed in self-limited infection. This article summarizes very recent immunologic and clinical studies on acute hepatitis C and illustrates the knowledge transfer from bench to bedside.