Hepatitis A Avoids the Immune System

Liver disease not chronic like Hepatitis C, but challenging

(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.

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Review Date: 
June 21, 2011