Advances and challenges in studying hepatitis B virus In vitro

Dvora Witt-Kehati, Maya Bitton Alaluf, Amir Shlomai

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a small DNA virus that infects the liver. Current anti-HBV drugs efficiently suppress viral replication but do not eradicate the virus due to the persistence of its episomal DNA. Efforts to develop reliable in vitro systems to model HBV infection, an imperative tool for studying HBV biology and its interactions with the host, have been hampered by major limitations at the level of the virus, the host and infection readouts. This review summarizes major milestones in the development of in vitro systems to study HBV. Recent advances in our understanding of HBV biology, such as the discovery of the bile-acid pump sodium-taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP) as a receptor for HBV, enabled the establishment of NTCP expressing hepatoma cell lines permissive for HBV infection. Furthermore, advanced tissue engineering techniques facilitate now the establishment of HBV infection systems based on primary human hepatocytes that maintain their phenotype and permissiveness for infection over time. The ability to differentiate inducible pluripotent stem cells into hepatocyte-like cells opens the door for studying HBV in a more isogenic background, as well. Thus, the recent advances in in vitro models for HBV infection holds promise for a better understanding of virus-host interactions and for future development of more definitive anti-viral drugs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalViruses
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2016

Keywords

  • Hepatocye-like cells
  • Primary human hepatocytes
  • Virus-host interactions

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