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We were recently updated on Hepatitis C, where Oxford University scientists claimed to have discovered a vaccine for the same. Unraveling a unique facet of Hepatitis C, this study by professionals at the University of Birmingham has revealed that human brain cells could be susceptible to infection by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV).

In this analysis, information regarding 10 hepatitis C patients who had donated their brain and liver tissues after their deaths, was included. The scientists observed HCV genomic substances in the brain specimens of 4 such persons.

Notably, virologists believed that endothelial cells found in the brain carry 4 principal protein receptors critical for the blood-brain barrier to be struck by HCV. Moreover, the team claimed that brain cells separated from the blood-brain barrier may be inflicted by HCV.

“This is the first report that cells of the central nervous system support HCV replication. These observations could have clinical implications providing a reservoir for the virus to persist during anti-viral treatment,” commented corresponding author Professor Jane McKeating, chair of molecular virology at the University of Birmingham.

According to the investigators, the endothelial cells shield the brain from damage by restricting the entry of pathogens. However, if this protective cover of cells is lost, all sorts of infectious agents gain entry to the brain. This could be one reason for tiredness and other effects reported by Hepatitis C patients.

The team concluded that viral-specific drugs or agents could be used as alternative forms of treatment for Hepatitis C. This study is published in the journal, Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology.