HBV and HCV infections continue to be major global health problems, causing over 1 million deaths annually. Key studies this year investigated the innate and adaptive immune responses in different clinical scenarios in HBV infection, whereas others evaluated the merits of transplanting HCV-infected organs into uninfected recipients.
HBV is able to act as a ‘stealth virus’ and evade the innate immune response1,2,3.
Factors associated with hepatitis flares after stopping antiviral therapy could eventually serve as biomarkers to predict who can safely stop treatment5,6.
Transmission of HCV can occur through liver transplantation despite absence of measurable viraemia in HCV-antibody positive donors, highlighting the need for close follow-up of patients receiving these organs7.
Organ transplantation from HCV-infected donors to HCV-uninfected recipients is safe but early and possibly even pre-emptive treatment is important to reduce the risk of relapse or severe initial infection8,9.
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Mutz, P. et al. HBV bypasses the innate immune response and does not protect HCV from antiviral activity of interferon. Gastroenterology 154, 1791–1804 (2018).
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J.J.F. has received research support from Abbvie, Gilead, Janssen and Merck and honoraria for scientific consulting from Contravir, Enanta and Roche. A.J.G. has acted as a consultant for Aicuris, Arbutus, Roche and SpringBank Pharmaceuticals and has received research funding from Janssen & Gilead.
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Feld, J.J., Gehring, A.J. Host–pathogen interactions in chronic HBV infection and transplantation of HCV-positive organs. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 16, 77–78 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41575-018-0101-y