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It is estimated that more than 170 million persons are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) world-wide. Of persons acutely infected with HCV, 20–30% recover spontaneously and clear viremia shortly following seroconversion, whereas 70–80% develop persistent infection. However, for a given infected individual, there is currently no way of predicting prognosis. Various studies have shown a clear difference in rates of HCV clearance based on race, host’s immunogentic factors, cytokine genotypes and expression, HLA types and NK activity. The genetic tools and the knowledge derived from the Human Genome Project, as well as availability of powerful and relatively inexpensive whole human genome analysis systems have led to the development of powerful genetic approach called genomewide association study (GWAS). In such studies, one can examine common genetic variations across large spans of the human genome by analyzing hundreds of thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) spanning all chromosomes. Several studies have shown cytokine genes or expression as immune mediators of HCV clearance. This review gives an overview of HCV molecular virology and highlight the growing evidence of the role of IL-28B in determining the outcome of HCV infection.
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