Received November 26, 2007
Chronic infections caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV) and/or hepatitis C virus (HCV) are the main risk factors for the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in humans. Both viruses cause a wide spectrum of clinical manifestations ranging from healthy carrier state to acute and chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, and HCC. HBV and HCV belong to different viral families (Hepadnoviridae and Flaviviridae, respectively); they are characterized by different genetic structures. Clinical manifestations of these viral infections result from the interaction between these viruses and host hepatocytes (i.e. between viral and cell genomes). Proteins encoded by both viruses play an important role in processes responsible for immortalization and transformation of these cells. Chronic inflammation determined by host immune response to the viral infection, hepatocyte death and their compensatory proliferation, as well as modulation of expression of some regulatory proteins of the cell (growth factors, cytokines, etc.) are the processes that play the major role in liver cancer induced by HBV and HCV.
KEY WORDS: hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, carcinogenesis, signaling pathways