Wang Y, Keck ZY, Foung SK. Viruses. 2011 Nov;3(11):2127-45. Epub 2011 Nov 2.
A critical first step in a "rational vaccine design" approach for hepatitis C virus (HCV) is to identify the most relevant mechanisms of immune protection. Emerging evidence provides support for a protective role of virus neutralizing antibodies, and the ability of the B cell response to modify the course of acute HCV infection. This has been made possible by the development of in vitro cell culture models, based on HCV retroviral pseudotype particles expressing E1E2 and infectious cell culture-derived HCV virions, and small animal models that are robust tools in studies of antibody-mediated virus neutralization. This review is focused on the immunogenic determinants on the E2 glycoprotein mediating virus neutralization and the pathways in which the virus is able to escape from immune containment. Encouraging findings from recent studies provide support for the existence of broadly neutralization antibodies that are not associated with virus escape. The identification of conserved epitopes mediating virus neutralization that are not associated with virus escape will facilitate the design of a vaccine immunogen capable of eliciting broadly neutralizing antibodies against this highly diverse virus.