Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is characterized by a number of autoreactive manifestations, such as autoantibody production, cryoglobulinemia and thyroid disorders. We will analyse critically the mechanisms invoked, and partially documented, to explain such manifestations arising in genetically predisposed individuals exposed to HCV. In particular we will examine the available evidence implicating the virus in lowering the B cell activation threshold, in directly infecting lymphocytes and in inducing self-reactivity through a mechanism of molecular mimicry. We will then move to the HCV related clinical immunopathological manifestations, with a specific attention to the effects of antiviral treatment.
Keywords: Hepatitis C virus, immune system dysregulation, molecular mimicry, antiviral therapy
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