Persistence of Hepatitis C Virus in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells of Sustained Viral Responders to Pegylated Interferon and Ribavirin Therapy
The aim of this paper was to assess the persistence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) among patients successfully treated with peginterferon and ribavirin. The persistence of viral RNA was evaluated in the serum and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of 25 chronic hepatitis C patients with sustained viral response to peginterferon and ribavirin treatment up to 56 months after the completion of therapy. Viral RNA was detected in the peripheral blood mononuclear cell cultures of five patients (20%), but none had detectable serum HCV RNA. At present, the clinical relevance of this finding is unclear. It is possible that viral persistence and, specifically, the presence of HCV RNA in PBMCs may lead to HCV reactivation under special circumstances, such as immunosuppression.
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