High dose of bile acid enables the cellular entry and replication of hepatitis C virus in vitro

Hong Jai Lee, Bo Young Shin, Jae Seung Moon, Jayson Antonio, Ailyn Fadriquela, Chun Chang Ho, Jin Su Shin, Jeesang Yoon, Sang Kyou Lee, Soo Ki Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Natural hosts infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) have a different bile acid (BA) composition than non-natural hosts uninfected. Our cumulative reports clarified that amid humoral milieu components, BA renders HBV permissive to human or rodent hepatic and non-hepatic cells. However, it is unknown if BA has a permissive effect in HCV against the same target cells. Objective: We aimed to establish an in vitro replication platform with BA-directed HCV entry and permissiveness in both human and murine cell lines. Results: Low doses of different BAs, such as trihydroxy BA, taurocholic acid (tCA) and dihydroxy BA, taurochenodeoxycholic acid (tCDCA), augmented HCV genome stability and surface antigenicity in vitro. By contrast, high-dosed BA improved the entry of wild type HCV into human and rodent hepatoma or non-hepatic cell lines. In line, we found that the in vitro cell culture condition (100 μmol/L of tCA coupled with 1 × 106 IU/mL HCV) was optimal for HCV penetration into target cells. Human (HepG2, Huh7) and rodent (Hepa1c1c7, H4-II-E) hepatoma cell lines were infected with HCV using this method, as evidenced by the presence of HCV RNA in culture supernatant. Further, cellular entry assay revealed that HCV could infect 12 different non-hepatic cell lines regardless of species or organ/tissue, consequently reproducing viral progeny as confirmed by HCV RNA. Lastly, irrespective of tCA, HCV progenies from immortalized HepG2 or Hepa1c1c7 cells successfully infected their mother cells as shown in reinfection assay. Conclusion: This study reveals that a high dose of BA, specifically tCA, can directly regulate lipid bilayer status in vitro, allowing HCV entry into immortalized hepatocytes, and non-hepatocytes in humans and mice. This is the first report on HCV permissiveness into human or rodent hepatocytes and non-hepatocytes via non-genetic humoral milieu modulation alone, establishing the platform for a robust HCV replication system in vitro.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-598
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and Cellular Toxicology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Oct

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) Grant (No. NRF-2018R1D1A1B07048194). No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported. We thank Mr. Justin Kim for proofreading the draft.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s) under exclusive licence to The Korean Society of Toxicogenomics and Toxicoproteomics.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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