Article open access publication

Mouse models of acute and chronic hepacivirus infection

Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), ISSN 0036-8075

Volume 357, 6347, 2017

DOI:10.1126/science.aal1962, Dimensions: pub.1090694147, PMC: PMC5654634, PMID: 28706073,



  1. (1) Rockefeller University, grid.134907.8
  2. (2) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
  3. (3) North Carolina State University, grid.40803.3f
  4. (4) The Ohio State University, grid.261331.4
  5. (5) New York University Langone Medical Center, grid.240324.3
  6. (6) Columbia University, grid.21729.3f


An estimated 71 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). The lack of small-animal models has impeded studies of antiviral immune mechanisms. Here we show that an HCV-related hepacivirus discovered in Norway rats can establish high-titer hepatotropic infections in laboratory mice with immunological features resembling those seen in human viral hepatitis. Whereas immune-compromised mice developed persistent infection, immune-competent mice cleared the virus within 3 to 5 weeks. Acute clearance was T cell dependent and associated with liver injury. Transient depletion of CD4+ T cells before infection resulted in chronic infection, characterized by high levels of intrahepatic regulatory T cells and expression of inhibitory molecules on intrahepatic CD8+ T cells. Natural killer cells controlled early infection but were not essential for viral clearance. This model may provide mechanistic insights into hepatic antiviral immunity, a prerequisite for the development of HCV vaccines.


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Times Cited: 54

Field Citation Ratio (FCR): 12.91

Relative Citation ratio (RCR): 3.7

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