Liver Unit, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
The immune response in patients chronically infected with HCV plays a unique role during the infection because of its potential to contribute not only to viral clearance and, in some cases, protective immunity, but also to liver injury. A detailed understanding of the immunological mechanisms involved in persistence to HCV is essential to fully appreciate the complexity of the disease. In recent years, enormous progress has been made to characterize the dysfunctional natural killer cells and T cells during the chronic phase of infection. This information is important to further optimize treatment strategies based on the strengthening antiviral and immunomodulatory activities in patients chronically infected with HCV.