Influence of Genes Suppressing Interferon Effects in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells during Triple Antiviral Therapy for Chronic Hepatitis C

>The levels of expression of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) in liver are associated with response to treatment with pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) plus ribavirin (RBV). However, associations between the responses of ISGs to IFN-based therapy and treatment efficacy or interleukin-28B (IL28B) genotype have not yet been determined. Therefore, we investigated the early responses of ISGs and interferon-lambdas (IFN-λs) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) during PEG-IFN/RBV plus NS3/4 protease inhibitor (PI) therapy. We prospectively enrolled 50 chronic hepatitis C patients with HCV genotype 1, and collected PBMCs at baseline, 8 and 24 h after the initial administration of PEG-IFN/RBV/PI. Levels of mRNAs for selected ISGs and IFN-λs were evaluated by real-time PCR. All 31 patients with a favorable IL28B genotype and 13 of 19 with an unfavorable genotype achieved sustained virological responses (SVR). Levels of mRNA for A20, SOCS1, and SOCS3, known to suppress antiviral activity by interfering with the IFN signaling pathway, as well as IRF1 were significantly higher at 8 h in patients with an unfavorable IL28B genotype than in those with a favorable one (P = 0.007, 0.026, 0.0004, 0.0006, respectively), especially in the non-SVR group. Particularly, the fold-change of IRF1 at 8 h relative to baseline was significantly higher in non-SVR than in SVR cases with an unfavorable IL28B genotype (P = 0.035). In conclusion, levels of several mRNAs of genes suppressing antiviral activity in PBMCs during PEG-IFN/RBV/PI differed according to IL28B genotypes, paralleling treatment efficacy.

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