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Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-specific CD8(+) T cells in persistent HCV infection are low in frequency and paradoxically show a phenotype associated with controlled infections, expressing the memory marker CD127. We addressed to what extent this phenotype is dependent on the presence of cognate antigen. We analyzed virus-specific responses in acute and chronic HCV infections and sequenced autologous virus. We show that CD127 expression is associated with decreased antigenic stimulation after either viral clearance or viral variation. Our data indicate that most CD8 T-cell responses in chronic HCV infection do not target the circulating virus and that the appearance of HCV-specific CD127(+) T cells is driven by viral variation.

Original publication




Journal article


J Virol

Publication Date





1656 - 1663


Amino Acid Sequence, Cell Line, Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay, Genotype, Hepacivirus, Hepatitis C, Humans, Interleukin-7 Receptor alpha Subunit, T-Lymphocytes, Treatment Outcome