Hepatitis C has been shown to be able to access the brain—an important breakthrough that may lead to improved treatment of Hepatitis C symptoms in the future.

The blood-brain barrier is like a more tightly-woven version of the cell barriers that exist throughout the body; only very small, or very specific substance types can get through. The research, which focused on post-humus Hepatitis C sufferers, found that Hepatitis C is compatible with the blood-brain barrier, allowing it to penetrate into the brain.

How does this affect Hepatitis C symptoms? One study found that the brain is not affected by Hepatitis C (memory, function), but other Hepatitis C symptoms, like fatigue, may be a result of it crossing the blood-brain barrier.

It’s not actually new news that Hepatitis C is in the brain—what’s important to this new research is the mechanism that allows it in—Hepatitis C may be responsible for compromising endothilial cells, an important part of the blood-brain barrier, making it easier for other pathogens to get through. This may be why some Hepatitis C symptoms have been harder to explain & treat than others—they weren’t actually Hepatitis C symptoms, but a result of a weakened immune system!

There’s another important aspect to the findings: the more we know about where Hepatitis C can live—an hide—in the body, the more effective treatments we can make. Although in the best cases we can nearly eradicate Hepatitis C symptoms, the virus itself is never fully eliminated (that we can measure); knowing where to find and eliminate the virus may lead to more successful treatments.

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