2007 Volume 105 Issue 2 Pages 145-150
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection causes chronic hepatitis and leads to liver fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Pegylated-interferon and ribavirin is the current standard therapy for chronic hepatitis C. However, the therapy is only effective in 50% of the patients. To overcome this problem, we recently developed the HCV cell culture system (OR6 system) for the screening of anti-HCV reagents. In this OR6 system, the luciferase gene was introduced into the upstream portion of the HCV genome to facilitate the monitoring of HCV RNA replication. Recently lipid metabolism is reported to be involved in HCV RNA replication. Cholesterol and sphingolipid are the major components in lipid rafts, which seem to be the scaffold for HCV RNA replication. Statins inhibit cholesterol biosynthesis and also have the pleiotropic effects by the inhibition of prenylation. We demonstrated different anti-HCV effects of statins (atorvastatin, simvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, and pitavastatin) using the OR6 system. Surprisingly, in contrast to the other statins, pravastatin exhibited no anti-HCV effect. Furthermore, statins enhanced the anti-HCV effect of interferon in combination. Statins may be a promising candidate for the adjuvant in interferon therapy and may improve the efficiency of the current interferon and ribavirin therapy.