1Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endocrinology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.
Infection with the hepatitis D virus induces the most severe form of chronic viral hepatitis, affecting over 12 million people worldwide. Chronic HDV infection leads to rapid development of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma in ~70% of patients within 15 years of infection. Recent evidence suggests that an interplay of different components of the immune system are contributing to viral control and may even be implicated in liver disease pathogenesis. This review will describe general concepts of antiviral immune response and elicit the present evidence concerning the interplay of the hepatitis D virus with the immune system.