The combination of ribavirin and peginterferon is the current standard of anti-viral treatment for chronic HCV patients. However, little is known on the mode of action of ribavirin in the anti-viral treatment of HCV patients. To investigate the immunomodulatory mechanism of ribavirin, we studied peginterferon alone versus peginterferon and ribavirin in chronic HBV patients. The addition of ribavirin did not affect the number of myeloid dendritic cells (mDC) or plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC), nor did it enhance T-helper-1 cell activity or T-cell proliferation. In contrast, it increased upregulation of activation markers on mDC and pDC, which was sustained throughout treatment. However, the addition of ribavirin had no effect on IFNα production by pDC. Our findings demonstrate that, although ribavirin does not lead to a viral load decline, in vivo treatment with ribavirin affects the activation of pDC and mDC in chronic HBV patients.

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Molecular Immunology
Department of Immunology

Boltjes, A., Op den Brouw, M., Biesta, P., Binda, R., van der Molen, R., Boonstra, A., … Woltman, A. (2013). Assessment of the effect of ribavirin on myeloid and plasmacytoid dendritic cells during interferon-based therapy of chronic hepatitis B patients. Molecular Immunology, 53(1-2), 72–78. doi:10.1016/j.molimm.2012.06.016