Failure of Immunity Against Hepatitis C Virus: Implications of Defects in Early Immunity
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The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an upcoming human pathogen. Although HCV infection is mostly asymptomatic, persistent infection may lead to liver failure or liver cancer. Research into HCV has shown that the immune response against HCV differs from more 'classic' immune responses observed against other viral pathogens, as human immunity often fails to clear HCV infection. One of the striking observations is that T cell induction, a crucial process in anti-HCV immunity, is delayed by 8-10 weeks in comparison to T cell immunity against other viruses. Research suggests that this delayed and aberrant immune response is mostly the result of events during the initiation of the antiviral response, but the total picture on this regard remains mostly unclear. This thesis will focus on the processes involved in early immunity against HCV, and how failure of these processes leads to the delayed and disturbed immune response that is seen in patients.