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Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is thought to be controlled by virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL). We have recently shown that HBV-specific CTL can abolish HBV replication noncytopathically in the liver of transgenic mice by secreting tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) after antigen recognition. We now demonstrate that hepatocellular HBV replication is also abolished noncytopathically during lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection, and we show that this process is mediated by TNF-alpha and IFN-alpha/beta produced by LCMV-infected hepatic macrophages. These results confirm the ability of these inflammatory cytokines to abolish HBV replication; they elucidate the mechanism likely to be responsible for clearance of HBV in chronically infected patients who become superinfected by other hepatotropic viruses; they suggest that pharmacological activation of intrahepatic macrophages may have therapeutic value in chronic HBV infection; and they raise the possibility that conceptually similar events may be operative in other viral infections as well.

Original publication




Journal article


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Publication Date





4589 - 4594