Hahn, Young S.
Professor, Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology
- BA, Biochemistry, Yon Sei University, Seoul, Korea
- PhD, Molecular Biology, California Institute of Technology
- Postdoc, Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine
Biotechnology, Immunology, Infectious Diseases/Biodefense, Microbiology, Neuroimmunology
Immune regulation for HCV infection and chronic liver inflammation
My research is focused on elucidating the immunoregulatory mechanism by Hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV is a global health concern causing severe liver disease such as fibrosis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. HCV infection in humans is remarkably efficient in establishing viral persistence. T cell responses have been reported to play a pivotal role in controlling HCV infection. However, HCV-specific T cell responses are significantly impaired in chronic HCV patients. This suggests that HCV may employ numerous mechanisms to counteract or possibly suppress the host T cell responses. Recent studies in my lab demonstrate that exosomes released from HCV-infected hepatocytes display TGF-beta at the exosome surface and suppress T cell responses. Exosomes are small membrane-bound extracellular vesicles and serve as natural carriers of signaling molecules to promote cellular crosstalk. We are currently studying to identify the cellular and molecular mechanism for the role of exosomes released from HCV-infected hepatocytes in regulating the host immunity and promoting the development of liver fibrosis. A better understanding of HCV-mediated immune regulation will provide a rational basis for immunotherapeutic strategies to prevent chronic HCV infection and chronic liver diseases.