Specific polymorphisms in hepatitis C virus genotype 3 core protein associated with intracellular lipid accumulation

Ravi Jhaveri*, John McHutchison, Keyur Patel, Guan Qiang, Anna Mae Diehl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Background. Steatosis is a common histological finding and a poor prognostic indicator in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. In HCV genotype 3-infected patients, the etiology of steatosis appears to be closely correlated with unknown viral factors that increase intracellular lipid levels. We hypothesize that specific sequence polymorphisms in HCV genotype 3 core protein may be associated with hepatic intracellular lipid accumulation. Methods. Using selected serum samples from 8 HCV genotype 3-infected patients with or without steatosis, we sequenced the HCV core gene to identify candidate polymorphisms associated with increased intracellular lipid levels. Results. Two polymorphisms at positions 182 and 186 of the core protein correlated with the presence (P = .03) and absence (P = .005) of intrahepatic steatosis. Transfected liver cell lines expressing core protein with steatosisassociated polymorphisms had increased intracellular lipid levels compared with non-steatosis-associated core isolates, as measured by oil red O staining (P = .02). Site-specific mutagenesis performed at positions 182 and 186 in steatosis-associated core genes yielded proteins that had decreased intracellular lipid levels in transfected cells (P = .03). Conclusions. We have identified polymorphisms in HCV core protein genotype 3 that produce increased intracellular lipid levels and thus may play a significant role in lipid metabolism or trafficking, contributing to steatosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-291
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases


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