- Molecular basis of telaprevir resistance due to V36 and T54 mutations in the NS3-4A protease of the hepatitis C virus (2008)
- Background The inhibitor telaprevir (VX-950) of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) protease NS3-4A has been tested in a recent phase 1b clinical trial in patients infected with HCV genotype 1. This trial revealed residue mutations that confer varying degrees of drug resistance. In particular, two protease positions with the mutations V36A/G/L/M and T54A/S were associated with low to medium levels of drug resistance during viral breakthrough, together with only an intermediate reduction of viral replication fitness. These mutations are located in the protein interior and far away from the ligand binding pocket. Results Based on the available experimental structures of NS3-4A, we analyze the binding mode of different ligands. We also investigate the binding mode of VX-950 by protein-ligand docking. A network of non-covalent interactions between amino acids of the protease structure and the interacting ligands is analyzed to discover possible mechanisms of drug resistance. We describe the potential impact of V36 and T54 mutants on the side chain and backbone conformations and on the non-covalent residue interactions. We propose possible explanations for their effects on the antiviral efficacy of drugs and viral fitness. Molecular dynamics simulations of T54A/S mutants and rotamer analysis of V36A/G/L/M side chains support our interpretations. Experimental data using an HCV V36G replicon assay corroborate our findings. Conclusion T54 mutants are expected to interfere with the catalytic triad and with the ligand binding site of the protease. Thus, the T54 mutants are assumed to affect the viral replication efficacy to a larger degree than V36 mutants. Mutations at V36 and/or T54 result in impaired interaction of the protease residues with the VX-950 cyclopropyl group, which explains the development of viral breakthrough variants.
- Soluble serum CD81 is elevated in patients with chronic hepatitis C and correlates with alanine aminotransferase serum activity (2012)
- Aim: Cellular CD81 is a well characterized hepatitis C virus (HCV) entry factor, while the relevance of soluble exosomal CD81 in HCV pathogenesis is poorly defined. We performed a case-control study to investigate whether soluble CD81 in the exosomal serum fraction is associated with HCV replication and inflammatory activity. Patients and Methods: Four cohorts were investigated, patients with chronic hepatitis C (n = 37), patients with chronic HCV infection and persistently normal ALT levels (n = 24), patients with long term sustained virologic response (SVR, n = 7), and healthy volunteers (n = 23). Concentration of soluble CD81 was assessed semi-quantitatively after differential centrifugation ranging from 200 g to 100,000 g in the fifth centrifugation fraction by immunoblotting and densitometry. Results: Soluble CD81 was increased in patients with chronic hepatitis C compared to healthy subjects (p = 0.03) and cured patients (p = 0.017). Patients with chronic HCV infection and persistently normal ALT levels and patients with long term SVR had similar soluble CD81 levels as healthy controls (p>0.2). Overall, soluble CD81 levels were associated with ALT levels (r = 0.334, p = 0.016) and severe liver fibrosis (p = 0.027). Conclusion: CD81 is increased in the exosomal serum fraction in patients with chronic hepatitis C and appears to be associated with inflammatory activity and severity of fibrosis.
- SEMS vs cSEMS in duodenal and small bowel obstruction: High risk of migration in the covered stent group (2013)
- AIM: To compare clinical success and complications of uncovered self-expanding metal stents (SEMS) vs covered SEMS (cSEMS) in obstruction of the small bowel. METHODS: Technical success, complications and outcome of endoscopic SEMS or cSEMS placement in tumor related obstruction of the duodenum or jejunum were retrospectively assessed. The primary end points were rates of stent migration and overgrowth. Secondary end points were the effect of concomitant biliary drainage on migration rate and overall survival. The data was analyzed according to the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology guidelines. RESULTS: Thirty-two SEMS were implanted in 20 patients. In all patients, endoscopic stent implantation was successful. Stent migration was observed in 9 of 16 cSEMS (56%) in comparison to 0/16 SEMS (0%) implantations (P = 0.002). Stent overgrowth did not significantly differ between the two stent types (SEMS: 3/16, 19%; cSEMS: 2/16, 13%). One cSEMS dislodged and had to be recovered from the jejunum by way of laparotomy. Time until migration between SEMS and cSEMS in patients with and without concomitant biliary stents did not significantly differ (HR = 1.530, 95%CI 0.731-6.306; P = 0.556). The mean follow-up was 57 ± 71 d (range: 1-275 d). CONCLUSION: SEMS and cSEMS placement is safe in small bowel tumor obstruction. However, cSEMS is accompanied with a high rate of migration in comparison to uncovered SEMS.
- Assessment of liver fibrosis and associated risk factors in HIV-infected individuals using transient elastography and serum biomarkers (2012)
- Background: Liver fibrosis in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals is mostly attributable to co-infection with hepatitis B or C. The impact of other risk factors, including prolonged exposure to combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) is poorly understood. Our aim was to determine the prevalence of liver fibrosis and associated risk factors in HIV-infected individuals based on non-invasive fibrosis assessment using transient elastography (TE) and serum biomarkers (Fibrotest [FT]). Methods: In 202 consecutive HIV-infected individuals (159 men; mean age 47 ± 9 years; 35 with hepatitis-C-virus [HCV] co-infection), TE and FT were performed. Repeat TE examinations were conducted 1 and 2 years after study inclusion. Results: Significant liver fibrosis was present in 16% and 29% of patients, respectively, when assessed by TE (≥ 7.1 kPa) and FT (> 0.48). A combination of TE and FT predicted significant fibrosis in 8% of all patients (31% in HIV/HCV co-infected and 3% in HIV mono-infected individuals). Chronic ALT, AST and γ-GT elevation was present in 29%, 20% and 51% of all cART-exposed patients and in 19%, 8% and 45.5% of HIV mono-infected individuals. Overall, factors independently associated with significant fibrosis as assessed by TE (OR, 95% CI) were co-infection with HCV (7.29, 1.95-27.34), chronic AST (6.58, 1.30-33.25) and γ-GT (5.17, 1.56-17.08) elevation and time on dideoxynucleoside therapy (1.01, 1.00-1.02). In 68 HIV mono-infected individuals who had repeat TE examinations, TE values did not differ significantly during a median follow-up time of 24 months (median intra-patient changes at last TE examination relative to baseline: -0.2 kPa, p = 0.20). Conclusions: Chronic elevation of liver enzymes was observed in up to 45.5% of HIV mono-infected patients on cART. However, only a small subset had significant fibrosis as predicted by TE and FT. There was no evidence for fibrosis progression during follow-up TE examinations.
- High prevalence of anti-HCV antibodies in two metropolitan emergency departments in Germany: a prospective screening analysis of 28,809 patients (2012)
- Background and Aims: The prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibodies in Germany has been estimated to be in the range of 0.4–0.63%. Screening for HCV is recommended in patients with elevated ALT levels or significant risk factors for HCV transmission only. However, 15–30% of patients report no risk factors and ALT levels can be normal in up to 20–30% of patients with chronic HCV infection. The aim of this study was to assess the HCV seroprevalence in patients visiting two tertiary care emergency departments in Berlin and Frankfurt, respectively. Methods: Between May 2008 and March 2010, a total of 28,809 consecutive patients were screened for the presence of anti-HCV antibodies. Anti-HCV positive sera were subsequently tested for HCV-RNA. Results: The overall HCV seroprevalence was 2.6% (95% CI: 2.4–2.8; 2.4% in Berlin and 3.5% in Frankfurt). HCV-RNA was detectable in 68% of anti-HCV positive cases. Thus, the prevalence of chronic HCV infection in the overall study population was 1.6% (95% CI 1.5–1.8). The most commonly reported risk factor was former/current injection drug use (IDU; 31.2%) and those with IDU as the main risk factor were significantly younger than patients without IDU (p<0.001) and the male-to-female ratio was 72% (121 vs. 46 patients; p<0.001). Finally, 18.8% of contacted HCV-RNA positive patients had not been diagnosed previously. Conclusions: The HCV seroprevalence was more than four times higher compared to current estimates and almost one fifth of contacted HCV-RNA positive patients had not been diagnosed previously.
- A common HLA-DPA1 variant is associated with hepatitis B virus infection but fails to distinguish active from inactive Caucasian carriers (2012)
- Background and Aims: Chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major health issue worldwide. Recently, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DP locus were identified to be associated with HBV infection in Asian populations. Most significant associations were observed for the A alleles of HLA-DPA1 rs3077 and HLA-DPB1 rs9277535, which conferred a decreased risk for HBV infection. We assessed the implications of these variants for HBV infection in Caucasians. Methods: Two HLA-DP gene variants (rs3077 and rs9277535) were analyzed for associations with persistent HBV infection and with different clinical outcomes, i.e., inactive HBsAg carrier status versus progressive chronic HBV (CHB) infection in Caucasian patients (n = 201) and HBsAg negative controls (n = 235). Results: The HLA-DPA1 rs3077 C allele was significantly associated with HBV infection (odds ratio, OR = 5.1, 95% confidence interval, CI: 1.9–13.7; p = 0.00093). However, no significant association was seen for rs3077 with progressive CHB infection versus inactive HBsAg carrier status (OR = 2.7, 95% CI: 0.6–11.1; p = 0.31). In contrast, HLA-DPB1 rs9277535 was not associated with HBV infection in Caucasians (OR = 0.8, 95% CI: 0.4–1.9; p = 1). Conclusions: A highly significant association of HLA-DPA1 rs3077 with HBV infection was observed in Caucasians. However, as a differentiation between different clinical courses of HBV infection was not possible, knowledge of the HLA-DPA1 genotype cannot be translated into personalized anti-HBV therapy approaches.
- Primary Biliary Acids Inhibit Hepatitis D Virus (HDV) Entry into Human Hepatoma Cells Expressing the Sodium-Taurocholate Cotransporting Polypeptide (NTCP) (2015)
- Background: The sodium-taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP) is both a key bile acid (BA) transporter mediating uptake of BA into hepatocytes and an essential receptor for hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis D virus (HDV). In this study we aimed to characterize to what extent and through what mechanism BA affect HDV cell entry. Methods: HuH-7 cells stably expressing NTCP (HuH-7/NTCP) and primary human hepatocytes (PHH) were infected with in vitro generated HDV particles. Infectivity in the absence or presence of compounds was assessed using immunofluorescence staining for HDV antigen, standard 50% tissue culture infectious dose (TCID50) assays and quantitative PCR. Results: Addition of primary conjugated and unconjugated BA resulted in a dose dependent reduction in the number of infected cells while secondary, tertiary and synthetic BA had a lesser effect. This effect was observed both in HuH-7/NTCP and in PHH. Other replication cycle steps such as replication and particle assembly and release were unaffected. Moreover, inhibitory BA competed with a fragment from the large HBV envelope protein for binding to NTCP-expressing cells. Conversely, the sodium/BA-cotransporter function of NTCP seemed not to be required for HDV infection since infection was similar in the presence or absence of a sodium gradient across the plasma membrane. When chenodeoxycolic acid (15 mg per kg body weight) was administered to three chronically HDV infected individuals over a period of up to 16 days there was no change in serum HDV RNA. Conclusions: Primary BA inhibit NTCP-mediated HDV entry into hepatocytes suggesting that modulation of the BA pool may affect HDV infection of hepatocytes.
- Predictive value of interferon-lambda gene polymorphisms for treatment response in chronic hepatitis C (2014)
- 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%.
- Dual function of the NK cell receptor 2B4 (CD244) in the regulation of HCV-specific CD8+ T cells (2010)
- The outcome of viral infections is dependent on the function of CD8+ T cells which are tightly regulated by costimulatory molecules. The NK cell receptor 2B4 (CD244) is a transmembrane protein belonging to the Ig superfamily which can also be expressed by CD8+ T cells. The aim of this study was to analyze the role of 2B4 as an additional costimulatory receptor regulating CD8+ T cell function and in particular to investigate its implication for exhaustion of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-specific CD8+ T cells during persistent infection. We demonstrate that (i) 2B4 is expressed on virus-specific CD8+ T cells during acute and chronic hepatitis C, (ii) that 2B4 cross-linking can lead to both inhibition and activation of HCV-specific CD8+ T cell function, depending on expression levels of 2B4 and the intracellular adaptor molecule SAP and (iii) that 2B4 stimulation may counteract enhanced proliferation of HCV-specific CD8+ T cells induced by PD1 blockade. We suggest that 2B4 is another important molecule within the network of costimulatory/inhibitory receptors regulating CD8+ T cell function in acute and chronic hepatitis C and that 2B4 expression levels could also be a marker of CD8+ T cell dysfunction. Understanding in more detail how 2B4 exerts its differential effects could have implications for the development of novel immunotherapies of HCV infection aiming to achieve immune control.
- A frequent variant in the human bile salt export pump gene ABCB11 is associated with hepatitis C virus infection, but not liver stiffness in a German population (2012)
- Background: The human ATP-binding cassette, subfamily B, member 11 (ABCB11) gene encodes the bile salt export pump, which is exclusively expressed at the canalicular membrane of hepatocytes. A frequent variant in the coding region, c.1331 T > C, leading to the amino acid exchange p.V444A, has been associated with altered serum bile salt levels in healthy individuals and predisposes homozygous carriers of the [C] allele for obstetric cholestasis. Recently, elevated bile salt levels were shown to be significantly associated with rates and risk of cirrhosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection treated with pegylated interferon-alpha2 and ribavirin, suggesting a potential role for bile salt levels in HCV treatment outcomes and in the fibrogenic evolution of HCV-related liver disease. The aim of this study was to investigate a possible association of ABCB11 c.1331 T > C with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and fibrosis stages as assessed by non-invasive transient elastography in a German cohort of patients. Methods: ABCB11 c.1331 T > C genotype was determined by allelic discrimination assay in 649 HCV infected cases and 413 controls. Overall, 444 cases were staged for fibrotic progression by measurement of liver stiffness. Results: Homo- or heterozygous presence of the frequent [C] allele was associated with HCV positivity (OR = 1.41, CI = 1.02 - 1.95, p = 0.037). No association was detectable between the ABCB11 c.1331 T > C genotype and increased liver stiffness. Conclusions: Our data confirm that homozygous presence of the major [C] allele of ABCB11 c.1331 T > C is a genetic susceptibility factor for HCV infection, but not for liver fibrosis.