Emerging evidence of hepatitis C virus neuroinvasion

Tomasz Laskus, Marek Radkowski, Debra M. Adair, Jeffrey Wilkinson, Adrienne C. Scheck, Jorge Rakela

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

89 Scopus citations


It has been reported that hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with cognitive dysfunction, fatigue and depression, which do not correlate with the severity of liver disease and cannot be accounted for by hepatic encephalopathy or drug abuse. There is also emerging evidence that HCV infection can have negative neurocognitive effects in HIV-infected cohorts. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy has suggested the likely existence of a biological basis for these effects. HCV replicative forms have recently been detected in autopsy brain tissue and the infected cells have been identified as CD68-positive (macrophages/microglia). These findings raise the possibility that HCV infection of the brain could be directly related to the reported neuropsychological and cognitive changes. HCV is not strictly hepatotropic, as it can also replicate in leukocytes, including monocytes/macrophages. The latter cells could provide access of HCV into the central nervous system ('Trojan horse' mechanism) in a process similar to that postulated for HIV-1. In support of this hypothetical mechanism come reports showing a close relationship between HCV sequences present in the brain and cerebrospinal fluid and sequences found in lymph nodes and peripheral blood mononuclear cells. However, despite some similarities there is a fundamental difference between HIV-1 and HCV infection as the latter does not progress into AIDS-type dementia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S140-S144
Issue numberSUPPL. 3
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Central nervous system
  • HCV
  • HIV
  • Neurocognitive function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases

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    Laskus, T., Radkowski, M., Adair, D. M., Wilkinson, J., Scheck, A. C., & Rakela, J. (2005). Emerging evidence of hepatitis C virus neuroinvasion. AIDS, 19(SUPPL. 3), S140-S144. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.aids.0000192083.41561.00