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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Mitochondrial injury, oxidative stress, and antioxidant gene expression are induced by hepatitis C virus core protein.

BACKGROUND & AIMS: The mechanisms of liver injury in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are poorly understood. Indirect evidence suggests that oxidative stress and mitochondrial injury play a role. The aim of this study was to determine if the HCV core protein itself alters mitochondrial function and contributes to oxidative stress. METHODS: HCV core protein was expressed in 3 different cell lines, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) and lipid peroxidation products were measured. RESULTS: Core expression uniformly increased ROS. In 2 inducible expression systems, core protein also increased lipid peroxidation products and induced antioxidant gene expression as well. A mitochondrial electron transport inhibitor prevented the core-induced increase in ROS. A fraction of the expressed core protein localized to the mitochondria and was associated with redistribution of cytochrome c from mitochondrial to cytosolic fractions. Sensitivity to oxidative stress was also seen in HCV transgenic mice in which increased intrahepatic lipid peroxidation products occurred in response to carbon tetrachloride. CONCLUSIONS: Oxidative injury occurs as a direct result of HCV core protein expression both in vitro and in vivo and may involve a direct effect of core protein on mitochondria. These results provide new insight into the pathogenesis of hepatitis C and provide an experimental rationale for investigation of antioxidant therapy.[1]


  1. Mitochondrial injury, oxidative stress, and antioxidant gene expression are induced by hepatitis C virus core protein. Okuda, M., Li, K., Beard, M.R., Showalter, L.A., Scholle, F., Lemon, S.M., Weinman, S.A. Gastroenterology (2002) [Pubmed]
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