GB virus C/hepatitis G virus replicates in human haematopoietic cells and vascular endothelial cells.
Handa A., Brown KE.
A novel flavivirus, GB virus C (GBV-C)/hepatitis G virus (HGV), has been detected in chronic liver disease patients. It is known that the viral RNA can be detected in approximately 5% of American blood donors. However, the implications for liver disease and the sites of virus replication remain unknown. Possible sites of virus replication were studied by using cell lines and/or primary cells derived from human lymphoid cells, myeloid cells, hepatocytes and endothelial cells. RNA was detected by virus strand-specific RT-PCR and GBV-C/HGV antigen was detected with a rabbit polyclonal anti-E2 (envelope 2) antibody by Western blot analysis. Negative-strand RNA, representative of replicating virus, was detected in lymphoid and megakaryocytoid cell lines and primary vascular endothelial cells. In addition, an increase in virus titre over time was demonstrated and viral antigen was detected, and virus could be passaged to infect fresh cells. However, viral RNA or antigen could not be detected in any of the hepatocyte lines tested. These results indicate that the replication site of GBV-C/HGV is not primarily in hepatocytes and that detection of replicating virus in hepatic tissue may reflect virus replication in haematopoietic cells and/or vascular endothelial cells present in the liver.