Hepatitis C

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Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C

Is an infection caused by a virus called the hepatitis C virus, having a high affinity for liver tissue. This virus is found in the blood of people with this disease. This infection has affected over 170 million people worldwide. The virus can cause an acute infection that is often asymptomatic. This can become chronic in 50-70% of cases. About 20% of patients progress to cirrhosis within 10 years after infection (Soest, Boland and Erpecum, 2004).

Evolution of Hepatitis C

After an initial acute phase in which at least 20% of infections clear up by themselves, the disease becomes chronic. It is considered that the acute phase lasts between 3 and 6 months, but the critical phase extends up to 1 year in order to include spontaneous healings that have occurred in the second half of evolution. Physical symptoms such as jaundice are rare, and fatigue associated with hepatitis can go unnoticed. However, a careful look at the past may help to distinguish the period after infection by a certain loss of morale and courage. The chronic phase can be extended 20 to 30 years without symptoms that some alterations in hepatic markers. Then you can start a phase of fibrosis of the liver more rapidly than lead reaches cirrhosis in a few years later of liver cancer (Bacon, McHutchison, 2006).

The diagnosis of liver cancer in hepatitis C patients is not higher than 5%, and many patients may exceed 30 years without developing major chronic liver damage. A significant proportion of those affected by hepatitis C is not showing clinical symptoms of any type (normal hepatic markers) and considers that 30% have better prognosis than others. It also seems established that the prognosis is better the earlier the disease was contracted, and this independently of viral load (amount of virus per unit of blood).Viremia does not seem to affect the evolution of the disease and, maybe, just change what is potentially contagious patient (Simmonds, 2002).

Biological Basis

Hepatitis C Virus

The virus of hepatitis C virus (HCV, HCV) is a small virus (50 nm ), with housing and single-stranded RNA(+). It belongs to the family Flaviviridae. It replicates mainly in the hepatocytes of the liver causing hepatitis C, although there is controversy on whether they can also do so in lymphocytes or monocytes (Tabor, 2004).

Circulating virus particles bind to receptors on the surface of hepatocytes entering the cell. Two suspected HCV receptors are CD81 and SR-BI . However, these receptors are found in all body cells. It has been observed tropism toward positive hepatocytes from HCV) and is investigating the existence of hepatocyte-specific cofactors.

Once inside the cytoplasm of the hepatocyte, HCV utilizes the intracellular machinery to carry out their own replication. In particular, the viral genome is translated , forming a single polyprotein of about 3,011 amino acids , which is segmented by the action of proteases , both viral and cellular, three proteins structural and seven nonstructural (NS). Then, the NS proteins lead back to the viral genome replication complex ...
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