Activation of nuclear factor kappaB in hepatitis C virus infection: implications for pathogenesis and hepatocarcinogenesis

D I Tai, S L Tsai, Y M Chen, Y L Chuang, C Y Peng, I S Sheen, C T Yeh, K S Chang, S N Huang, G C Kuo, Y F Liaw
Hepatology: Official Journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases 2000, 31 (3): 656-64
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) core protein is a multifunctional protein. It may bind to the death domain of tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 (TNFR1) and to the cytoplasmic tail of lymphotoxin-beta receptor, implying that it may be involved in the apoptosis and anti-apoptosis signaling pathways. In vitro studies have been inconclusive regarding its ability to inhibit or enhance TNF-alpha-induced apoptosis. To address this issue, electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) and immunohistochemical studies were used to show the activation of nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) in HCV-infected liver tissues and in HCV core-transfected cells. The activation of NF-kappaB was correlated with the apoptosis assays. The results showed that NF-kappaB activation could be shown in HCV-infected livers and HCV core-transfected cells. The data of EMSA correlated with those of immunohistochemical studies, which revealed a higher frequency of NF-kappaB nuclear staining in HCV-infected than in normal livers. NF-kappaB activation conferred resistance to TNF-alpha-induced apoptosis in HCV core-transfected cells. Inhibition of NF-kappaB activation by pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate sensitized them to TNF-alpha-induced apoptosis. These findings suggest that HCV infection may cause anti-apoptosis by activation of NF-kappaB and implicate a mechanism by which HCV may evade the host's immune surveillance leading to viral persistence and possibly to hepatocarcinogenesis.

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