Predictive value of interferon-lambda gene polymorphisms for treatment response in chronic hepatitis C
- Background: IL28B gene polymorphism is the best baseline predictor of response to interferon alfa-based antiviral therapies in chronic hepatitis C. Recently, a new IFN-L4 polymorphism was identified as first potential functional variant for induction of IL28B expression. Individualization of interferon alfa-based therapies based on a combination of IL28B/IFN-L4 polymorphisms may help to optimize virologic outcome and economic resources.
Methods: Optimization of treatment outcome prediction was assessed by combination of different IL28B and IFN-L4 polymorphisms in patients with chronic HCV genotype 1 (n = 385), 2/3 (n = 267), and 4 (n = 220) infection treated with pegylated interferon alfa (PEG-IFN) and ribavirin with (n = 79) or without telaprevir. Healthy people from Germany (n = 283) and Egypt (n = 96) served as controls.
Results: Frequencies of beneficial IL28B rs12979860 C/C genotypes were lower in HCV genotype 1/4 infected patients in comparison to controls (20–35% vs. 46–47%) this was also true for ss469415590 TT/TT (20–35% vs. 45–47%). Single interferon-lambda SNPs (rs12979860, rs8099917, ss469415590) correlated with sustained virologic response (SVR) in genotype 1, 3, and 4 infected patients while no association was observed for genotype 2. Interestingly, in genotype 3 infected patients, best SVR prediction was based on IFN-L4 genotype. Prediction of SVR with high accuracy (71–96%) was possible in genotype 1, 2, 3 and 4 infected patients who received PEG-IFN/ribavirin combination therapy by selection of beneficial IL28B rs12979860 C/C and/or ss469415590 TT/TT genotypes (p<0.001). For triple therapy with first generation protease inhibitors (PIs) (boceprevir, telaprevir) prediction of high SVR (90%) rates was based on the presence of at least one beneficial genotype of the 3 IFN-lambda SNPs.
Conclusion: IFN-L4 seems to be the best single predictor of SVR in genotype 3 infected patients. For optimized prediction of SVR by treatment with dual combination or first generation PI triple therapies, grouping of interferon-lambda haplotypes may be helpful with positive predictive values of 71–96%.
Fatigue during treatment for hepatitis C virus: results of self-reported fatigue severity in two Phase IIb studies of simeprevir treatment in patients with hepatitis C virus genotype 1 infection
Donna M. Evon
- Background: Fatigue is a common symptom of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and a frequent side-effect of peginterferon/ribavirin (PR) therapy for HCV. This study evaluated the impact of adding the oral HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitor simeprevir to PR on patient-reported fatigue and health status among patients with chronic HCV genotype 1 infection enrolled in the Phase IIb PILLAR and ASPIRE trials [NCT00882908; NCT00980330].
Methods: Treatment-naïve patients (PILLAR, n = 386) and treatment-experienced patients (ASPIRE, n = 462) were randomized to simeprevir plus PR (simeprevir/PR) or placebo plus PR (placebo/PR). In PILLAR, duration of PR treatment in the simeprevir/PR groups was determined using response-guided therapy (RGT) criteria. PR could be terminated at Week 24, instead of Week 48, if HCV RNA was <25 IU/mL by Week 4 and then undetectable at Weeks 12, 16, and 20. In both studies, patients completed the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) and EQ-5D quality-of-life questionnaire in their native language at baseline and throughout the studies up until Week 72.
Results: During the first 24 weeks of treatment, mean FSS total score was increased to a similar degree compared with baseline among patients receiving simeprevir/PR or placebo/PR in both studies indicating increased fatigue severity. Mean FSS scores returned to values comparable with baseline among patients receiving simeprevir/PR after Week 24 in PILLAR (after treatment completion for the majority of patients) and in ASPIRE (after Week 48), consistent with RGT enabling early termination of all treatment at Week 24 in 82.2% of simeprevir/PR-treated patients in the PILLAR study. Similar results were observed for EQ-5D, with simeprevir/PR-treated patients experiencing less time with worse health problems according to EQ-5D scores compared with placebo/PR groups in both studies, and more rapid improvement in health status associated with shorter treatment duration in the PILLAR study.
Conclusions: Combination of simeprevir with PR did not increase patient-reported fatigue severity or health status impairments beyond that reported by patients treated with PR alone. Many patients treated with simeprevir/PR returned to pretreatment fatigue and health status levels sooner due to increased treatment efficacy that enabled shorter duration of all therapy, compared with PR alone.
Anti-HDV IgM as a marker of disease activity in hepatitis delta
Beatriz Calle Serrano
Florin Alexandru Caruntu
Manuela Gabriela Curescu
George V. Papatheodoridis
Christine S. Falk
Michael P. Manns
- Background: Hepatitis delta frequently leads to liver cirrhosis and hepatic decompensation. As treatment options are limited, there is a need for biomarkers to determine disease activity and to predict the risk of disease progression. We hypothesized that anti-HDV IgM could represent such a marker.
Methods: Samples of 120 HDV-infected patients recruited in an international multicenter treatment trial (HIDIT-2) were studied. Anti-HDV IgM testing was performed using ETI-DELTA-IGMK-2-assay (DiaSorin). In addition, fifty cytokines, chemokines and angiogenetic factors were measured using multiplex technology (Bio-Plex System). A second independent cohort of 78 patients was studied for the development of liver-related clinical endpoints (decompensation, HCC, liver transplantation or death; median follow up of 3.0 years, range 0.6–12).
Results: Anti-HDV IgM serum levels were negative in 18 (15%), low (OD<0.5) in 76 (63%), and high in 26 (22%) patients of the HIDIT-2 cohort. Anti-HDV IgM were significantly associated with histological inflammatory (p<0.01) and biochemical disease activity (ALT, AST p<0.01). HDV replication was independent from anti-HDV IgM, however, low HBV-DNA levels were observed in groups with higher anti-HDV IgM levels (p<0.01). While high IP-10 (CXCL10) levels were seen in greater groups of anti-HDV IgM levels, various other antiviral cytokines were negatively associated with anti-HDV IgM. Associations between anti-HDV IgM and ALT, AST, HBV-DNA were confirmed in the independent cohort. Clinical endpoints occurred in 26 anti-HDV IgM positive patients (39%) but in only one anti-HDV IgM negative individual (9%; p = 0.05).
Conclusions: Serum anti-HDV IgM is a robust, easy-to-apply and relatively cheap marker to determine disease activity in hepatitis delta which has prognostic implications. High anti-HDV IgM levels may indicate an activated interferon system but exhausted antiviral immunity.
Serum Autotaxin Is a Parameter for the Severity of Liver Cirrhosis and Overall Survival in Patients with Liver Cirrhosis – A Prospective Cohort Study
- Background: Autotaxin (ATX) and its product lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) are considered to be involved in the development of liver fibrosis and elevated levels of serum ATX have been found in patients with hepatitis C virus associated liver fibrosis. However, the clinical role of systemic ATX in the stages of liver cirrhosis was unknown. Here we investigated the relation of ATX serum levels and severity of cirrhosis as well as prognosis of cirrhotic patients.
Methods: Patients with liver cirrhosis were prospectively enrolled and followed until death, liver transplantation or last contact. Blood samples drawn at the day of inclusion in the study were assessed for ATX content by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. ATX levels were correlated with the stage as well as complications of cirrhosis. The prognostic value of ATX was investigated by uni- and multivariate Cox regression analyses. LPA concentration was determined by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.
Results: 270 patients were enrolled. Subjects with liver cirrhosis showed elevated serum levels of ATX as compared to healthy subjects (0.814±0.42 mg/l vs. 0.258±0.40 mg/l, P<0.001). Serum ATX levels correlated with the Child-Pugh stage and the MELD (model of end stage liver disease) score and LPA levels (r = 0.493, P = 0.027). Patients with hepatic encephalopathy (P = 0.006), esophageal varices (P = 0.002) and portal hypertensive gastropathy (P = 0.008) had higher ATX levels than patients without these complications. Low ATX levels were a parameter independently associated with longer overall survival (hazard ratio 0.575, 95% confidence interval 0.365–0.905, P = 0.017).
Conclusion: Serum ATX is an indicator for the severity of liver disease and the prognosis of cirrhotic patients.
Emerging therapies for the treatment of hepatitis C
Christian M. Lange
Ira M. Jacobson
Charles M. Rice
- Opportunities to treat infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) are evolving rapidly. From the introduction of interferon-α monotherapy in 1992 to the approval of telaprevir- and boceprevir-based triple therapies with pegylated interferon-α and ribavirin in 2011, the chances of curing patients infected with HCV genotype 1 have improved from <10% to approximately 70%. Significant further improvements are on the horizon, which may well cure virtually all hepatitis C patients with an all-oral, interferon-free regimen in the very near future. These exciting developments are reviewed in the present article.
PEG-IFN Alpha but Not Ribavirin Alters NK Cell Phenotype and Function in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C
Antoaneta A. Markova
Michael P. Manns
- Background: Ribavirin (RBV) remains part of several interferon-free treatment strategies even though its mechanisms of action are still not fully understood. One hypothesis is that RBV increases responsiveness to type I interferons. Pegylated Interferon alpha (PEG-IFNa) has recently been shown to alter natural killer (NK) cell function possibly contributing to control of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. However, the effects of ribavirin alone or in combination with IFNa on NK cells are unknown.
Methods: Extensive ex vivo phenotyping and functional analysis of NK cells from hepatitis C patients was performed during antiviral therapy. Patients were treated for 6 weeks with RBV monotherapy (n = 11), placebo (n = 13) or PEG-IFNa-2a alone (n = 6) followed by PEG-IFNa/RBV combination therapy. The effects of RBV and PEG-IFNa-2a on NK cells were also studied in vitro after co-culture with K562 or Huh7.5 cells.
Results: Ribavirin monotherapy had no obvious effects on NK cell phenotype or function, neither ex vivo in patients nor in vitro. In contrast, PEG-IFNa-2a therapy was associated with an increase of CD56bright cells and distinct changes in expression profiles leading to an activated NK cell phenotype, increased functionality and decline of terminally differentiated NK cells. Ribavirin combination therapy reduced some of the IFN effects. An activated NK cell phenotype during therapy was inversely correlated with HCV viral load.
Conclusions: PEG-IFNa activates NK cells possibly contributing to virological responses independently of RBV. The role of NK cells during future IFN-free combination therapies including RBV remains to be determined.
Vitamin D levels vary during antiviral treatment but are unable to predict treatment outcome in HCV genotype 1 infected patients
Boecher Wulf O.
- Background: Different parameters have been determined for prediction of treatment outcome in hepatitis c virus genotype 1 infected patients undergoing pegylated interferon, ribavirin combination therapy. Results on the importance of vitamin D levels are conflicting. In the present study, a comprehensive analysis of vitamin D levels before and during therapy together with single nucleotide polymorphisms involved in vitamin D metabolism in the context of other known treatment predictors has been performed.
Methods: In a well characterized prospective cohort of 398 genotype 1 infected patients treated with pegylated interferon-α and ribavirin for 24–72 weeks (INDIV-2 study) 25-OH-vitamin D levels and different single nucleotide polymorphisms were analyzed together with known biochemical parameters for a correlation with virologic treatment outcome.
Results: Fluctuations of more than 5 (10) ng/ml in 25-OH-vitamin D-levels have been observed in 66 (39) % of patients during the course of antiviral therapy and neither pretreatment nor under treatment 25-OH-vitamin D-levels were associated with treatment outcome. The DHCR7-TT-polymorphism within the 7-dehydrocholesterol-reductase showed a significant association (P = 0.031) to sustained viral response in univariate analysis. Among numerous further parameters analyzed we found that age (OR = 1.028, CI = 1.002–1.056, P = 0.035), cholesterol (OR = 0.983, CI = 0.975–0.991, P<0.001), ferritin (OR = 1.002, CI = 1.000–1.004, P = 0.033), gGT (OR = 1.467, CI = 1.073–2.006, P = 0.016) and IL28B-genotype (OR = 2.442, CI = 1.271–4.695, P = 0.007) constituted the strongest predictors of treatment response.
Conclusions: While 25-OH-vitamin D-levels levels show considerable variations during the long-lasting course of antiviral therapy they do not show any significant association to treatment outcome in genotype 1 infected patients.
Reduced migration of MLH1 deficient colon cancer cells depends on SPTAN1
Benjamin Philipp Ernst
- Introduction: Defects in the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) protein MLH1 are frequently observed in sporadic and hereditary colorectal cancers (CRC). Affected tumors generate much less metastatic potential than the MLH1 proficient forms. Although MLH1 has been shown to be not only involved in postreplicative MMR but also in several MMR independent processes like cytoskeletal organization, the connection between MLH1 and metastasis remains unclear. We recently identified non-erythroid spectrin αII (SPTAN1), a scaffolding protein involved in cell adhesion and motility, to interact with MLH1. In the current study, the interaction of MLH1 and SPTAN1 and its potential consequences for CRC metastasis was evaluated.
Methods: Nine cancer cell lines as well as fresh and paraffin embedded colon cancer tissue from 12 patients were used in gene expression studies of SPTAN1 and MLH1. Co-expression of SPTAN1 and MLH1 was analyzed by siRNA knock down of MLH1 in HeLa, HEK293, MLH1 positive HCT116, SW480 and LoVo cells. Effects on cellular motility were determined in MLH1 deficient HCT116 and MLH1 deficient HEK293T compared to their MLH1 proficient sister cells, respectively.
Results: MLH1 deficiency is clearly associated with SPTAN1 reduction. Moreover, siRNA knock down of MLH1 decreased the mRNA level of SPTAN1 in HeLa, HEK293 as well as in MLH1 positive HCT116 cells, which indicates a co-expression of SPTAN1 by MLH1. In addition, cellular motility of MLH1 deficient HCT116 and MLH1 deficient HEK293T cells was impaired compared to the MLH1 proficient sister clones. Consequently, overexpression of SPTAN1 increased migration of MLH1 deficient cells while knock down of SPTAN1 decreased cellular mobility of MLH1 proficient cells, indicating SPTAN1-dependent migration ability.
Conclusions: These data suggest that SPTAN1 levels decreased in concordance with MLH1 reduction and impaired cellular mobility in MLH1 deficient colon cancer cells. Therefore, aggressiveness of MLH1-positive CRC might be related to SPTAN1.
Promoter methylation of MLH1, PMS2, MSH2 and p16 is a phenomenon of advanced-stage HCCs
Inga Malena Hinrichsen
- Epigenetic silencing of tumour suppressor genes has been observed in various cancers. Looking at hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) specific protein silencing was previously demonstrated to be associated with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). However, the proposed HCV dependent promoter methylation of DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes and thereby enhanced progression of hepatocarcinogenesis has been the subject of controversial discussion. We investigated promoter methylation pattern of the MMR genes MLH1, MSH2 and PMS2 as well as the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A gene (p16) in 61 well characterized patients with HCCs associated with HCV, Hepatitis B virus infection or alcoholic liver disease. DNA was isolated from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumour and non-tumour adjacent tissue and analysed by methylation-specific PCR. Moreover, microsatellite analysis was performed in tissues showing methylation in MMR gene promoters. Our data demonstrated that promoter methylation of MLH1, MSH2, PMS2 and p16 is present among all considered HCCs. Hereby, promoter silencing was detectable more frequently in advanced-stage HCCs than in low-stage ones. However, there was no significant correlation between aberrant DNA methylation of MMR genes or p16 and HCV infection in related HCC specimens. In summary, we show that promoter methylation of essential MMR genes and p16 is detectable in HCCs most dominantly in pT3 stage tumour cases. Since loss of MMR proteins was previously described to be not only responsible for tumour development but also for chemotherapy resistance, the knowledge of mechanisms jointly responsible for HCC progression might enable significant improvement of individual HCC therapy in the future.
Interobserver agreement of Thyroid Imaging Reporting and Data System (TIRADS) and strain elastography for the assessment of thyroid nodules
- Background: Thyroid Imaging Reporting and Data System (TIRADS) was developed to improve patient management and cost-effectiveness by avoiding unnecessary fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) in patients with thyroid nodules. However, its clinical use is still very limited. Strain elastography (SE) enables the determination of tissue elasticity and has shown promising results for the differentiation of thyroid nodules.
Methods: The aim of the present study was to evaluate the interobserver agreement (IA) of TIRADS developed by Horvath et al. and SE. Three blinded observers independently scored stored images of TIRADS and SE in 114 thyroid nodules (114 patients). Cytology and/or histology was available for all benign (n = 99) and histology for all malignant nodules (n = 15).
Results: The IA between the 3 observers was only fair for TIRADS categories 2–5 (Coheńs kappa = 0.27,p = 0.000001) and TIRADS categories 2/3 versus 4/5 (ck = 0.25,p = 0.0020). The IA was substantial for SE scores 1–4 (ck = 0.66,p<0.000001) and very good for SE scores 1/2 versus 3/4 (ck = 0.81,p<0.000001). 92–100% of patients with TIRADS-2 had benign lesions, while 28–42% with TIRADS-5 had malignant cytology/histology. The negative-predictive-value (NPV) was 92–100% for TIRADS using TIRADS-categories 4&5 and 96–98% for SE using score ES-3&4 for the diagnosis of malignancy, respectively. However, only 11–42% of nodules were in TIRADS-categories 2&3, as compared to 58–60% with ES-1&2.
Conclusions: IA of TIRADS developed by Horvath et al. is only fair. TIRADS and SE have high NPV for excluding malignancy in the diagnostic work-up of thyroid nodules.