Hepatitis A Avoids the Immune System

Liver disease not chronic like Hepatitis C, but challenging

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Just when researchers were attributing hepatitis C's ability to become chronic was due to its superior ability to avoid the immune system, a new discovery was made. Hepatitis A can linger, too in the body for up to a year.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina have found that acute hepatitis A is a better escape artist in regards to the immune system than chronic hepatitis C

The team was actually trying to understand why hepatitis C manages to become chronic when this more intriguing finding about hepatitis A came to pass. The findings contradict the effects of the diseases, because hepatitis A is acute and self-limiting, causing intestinal disease that the body clears.

"The understanding why hepatitis C becomes chronic is changing."

Stanley M. Lemon, M.D., professor of microbiology and immunology and a member of University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Center for Translational Immunology explains that their study results contradict previous assumptions that hepatitis C is better at silencing the interferon response than hepatitis A. 

Dr. Lemon explains explains that hepatitis viruses have co-evolved with humans over a very long period of time and are quite adept at evading the immune system.

He states “These results undermine the theory that evasion of the interferon response is a key mechanism in the development of chronic Hepatitis C – the outcome of infection with these viruses is very different, highlighting how little we understand the unique environment within the liver for virus-host interactions.

It is actually the acute infection, Hepatitis A, that is stealthier at evading the interferon response.”

This study is published on-line in the Early Edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 21, 2011
Last Updated:
June 25, 2011