The outcome of an individual’s hepatitis C infection is a balance between immune responses mounted by the host to kill virus infected cells and the ongoing growth of the virus. The immune responses are themselves the result of a complex balance between CD8 cells that can kill infected cells and regulatory T cells that act to keep the CD8’s under control. Figure 1 is from a hepatitis C infected liver and shows these two kinds of cells stained in different colours.
For our work we want to quantify these kind of interactions by counting virus and immune cells. We can use a cell counting machine to count immune cells. The kind of output generated is shown in figure 2. Each dot is one cell and the cells inside the oval have been stained using two molecules that show that they are CD8 cells specific for hepatitis C.
Figure 1. Cells from a hepatitis C infected liver. The brown cells are regulatory T cells and the blue cells are CD8 T cells.
Figure 2. FACS (Fluorescence activated cell sorter) output showing hepatitis C specific CD8 cells from an HCV infected patient. The two stains are CD8 and MHC peptide tetramer that stains hepatitis C specific CD8 cells.