Human pluripotent stem cell-derived hepatocytes support complete replication of hepatitis C virus

Philip Roelandt, Susan Obeid, Jan Paeshuyse, Jolien Vanhove, Alfons Van Lommel, Yaakov Nahmias, Frederik Nevens*, Johan Neyts, Catherine M. Verfaillie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Worldwide, about 180 million people are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Current in vitro culture systems for HCV depend chiefly on human hepatoma cell lines. Although primary human hepatocytes support HCV infection in vitro, and immunodeficient mice repopulated with human hepatocytes support HCV infection in vivo, these models are limited because of shortage of human livers to isolate hepatocytes. Therefore, there is significant interest in the establishment from of a HCV culture system in human stem cell-derived hepatocyte-like cells. Methods: Human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived hepatocytes were infected with HCV in the presence or absence of direct acting antivirals. After inoculation, replication of HCV was analyzed extensively. Results: We demonstrate that hESC-derived hepatocytes can be infected with the HCV JFH1 genotype 2a, resulting in the production of viral RNA in the stem cell progeny. Viral replication is inhibited by a non-nucleoside HCV polymerase-inhibitor (HCV-796), a cyclophilin binding molecule (Debio 025-Alisporivir) and the protease inhibitor VX-950 (Telaprevir). Stem cell-derived hepatocytes produced, for more than 10 days, the HCV core protein as well as virions that were capable of re-infecting hepatoma cells. Conclusions: Hepatocytes derived from hESC support the complete HCV replication cycle (including the production of infectious virus), and viral replication in these cells is efficiently inhibited by selective inhibitors of HCV replication.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)246-251
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hepatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
P. Roelandt is funded by IWT (Agentschap voor Innovatie door Wetenschap en Technologie – Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology, ) and VVGE (Vlaamse Vereniging voor Gastro-Enterologie – Flemish Society Gastroenterology, ). S. Obeid is supported by KU Leuven BIO-bursary . J. Paeshuyse is a postdoctoral fellow funded from FWO (Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek – Research Fundings Flanders, ). J. Vanhove is funded by IWT. Y. Nahmias is funded by the European Research Council (242699-TMIHCV) and Marie Curie International Reintegration Grant (248417-microLiverMaturation). F. Nevens receives grants from FWO and holds a chair in liver disease at KU Leuven from MSD and Roche. J. Neyts is supported by FWO grant ( G072809N ) and KU Leuven grant ( GOA/10/014 ). C. Verfaillie receives grants from FWO, the National Institutes of Health ( RO1-DK58295 ), G.0667.07 Odysseus award, a KU Leuven SCIL Center of Excellence/Program Financing Award, and a KU Leuven OT ( ETH-C0420-OT/09/053 ) and GOA ( EME-C2161-GOA/11/012 ) Award, IWT-HepStem and European Commission FP7/Cosmetics Europe jointly funded project (HeMiBio, ECGA #26677).


  • Differentiation
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Human embryonic stem cells
  • Replication


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