Background and Aims: Recent studies indicate that hepatitis C virus (HCV) can modulate the expression of various genes including those involved in interferon signaling, and up-regulation of interferon-stimulated genes by HCV was reported to be strongly associated with treatment outcome. To expand our understanding of the molecular mechanism underlying treatment resistance, we analyzed the direct effects of interferon and/or HCV infection under immunodeficient conditions using cDNA microarray analysis of human hepatocyte chimeric mice. Methods: Human serum containing HCV genotype 1b was injected into human hepatocyte chimeric mice. IFN-α was administered 8 weeks after inoculation, and 6 hours later human hepatocytes in the mouse livers were collected for microarray analysis. Results: HCV infection induced a more than 3-fold change in the expression of 181 genes, especially genes related to Organismal Injury and Abnormalities, such as fibrosis or injury of the liver (P = 5.90E-16 ~ 3.66E-03). IFN administration induced more than 3-fold up-regulation in the expression of 152 genes. Marked induction was observed in the anti-fibrotic chemokines such as CXCL9, suggesting that IFN treatment might lead not only to HCV eradication but also prevention and repair of liver fibrosis. HCV infection appeared to suppress interferon signaling via significant reduction in interferon-induced gene expression in several genes of the IFN signaling pathway, including Mx1, STAT1, and several members of the CXCL and IFI families (P = 6.0E-12). Genes associated with Antimicrobial Response and Inflammatory Response were also significantly repressed (P = 5.22×10 -10 ~ 1.95×10 -2). Conclusions: These results provide molecular insights into possible mechanisms used by HCV to evade innate immune responses, as well as novel therapeutic targets and a potential new indication for interferon therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)