- 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.