It has been reported that hepatitis C virus (HCV) may cause oxidative stress in infected cells.
Patients with chronic hepatitis C exhibit an increased production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF alpha), a cytokine that can produce oxidative stress by stimulating the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Cell defense against ROS includes overexpression of Mn-superoxide dismutase (SOD), an inducible mitochondrial enzyme. To investigate cell defense against oxidative stress in HCV infection, we analyzed Mn-SOD mRNA in liver and in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from patients with chronic hepatitis C. Mn-SOD expression in PBMC was significantly increased in patients with HCV infection.
Patients with sustained virological and biochemical response after therapy showed significantly lower Mn-SOD than patients with positive viremia. By contrast, Mn-SOD expression was not enhanced in the liver of patients with chronic hepatitis C. The values of Mn-SOD mRNA did not correlate with TNF alpha mRNA expression, viral load, or liver disease activity.
Our results indicate that in HCV infection an induction of Mn-SOD was present in PBMC but absent in the liver, suggesting that this organ could be less protected against oxidative damage. Oxidative stress could participate in the pathogenesis of HCV infection.
CITATION Free Radic Biol Med. 1998 May;24(7-8):1235-41