- 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.
- 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.
- A genetic validation study reveals a role of vitamin D metabolism in the response to interferon-alfa-based therapy of chronic hepatitis C (2012)
- Background: To perform a comprehensive study on the relationship between vitamin D metabolism and the response to interferon-α-based therapy of chronic hepatitis C. Methodology/Principal Findings: Associations between a functionally relevant polymorphism in the gene encoding the vitamin D 1α-hydroxylase (CYP27B1-1260 rs10877012) and the response to treatment with pegylated interferon-α (PEG-IFN-α) and ribavirin were determined in 701 patients with chronic hepatitis C. In addition, associations between serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25[OH]D3) and treatment outcome were analysed. CYP27B1-1260 rs10877012 was found to be an independent predictor of sustained virologic response (SVR) in patients with poor-response IL28B genotypes (15% difference in SVR for rs10877012 genotype AA vs. CC, p = 0.02, OR = 1.52, 95% CI = 1.061–2.188), but not in patients with favourable IL28B genotype. Patients with chronic hepatitis C showed a high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency (25[OH]D3<20 ng/mL) during all seasons, but 25(OH)D3 serum levels were not associated with treatment outcome. Conclusions/Significance: Our study suggests a role of bioactive vitamin D (1,25[OH]2D3, calcitriol) in the response to treatment of chronic hepatitis C. However, serum concentration of the calcitriol precursor 25(OH)D3 is not a suitable predictor of treatment outcome.
- A multi-variant, viral dynamic model of genotype 1 HCV to assess the in vivo evolution of protease-inhibitor resistant variants (2010)
- Variants resistant to compounds specifically targeting HCV are observed in clinical trials. A multi-variant viral dynamic model was developed to quantify the evolution and in vivo fitness of variants in subjects dosed with monotherapy of an HCV protease inhibitor, telaprevir. Variant fitness was estimated using a model in which variants were selected by competition for shared limited replication space. Fitness was represented in the absence of telaprevir by different variant production rate constants and in the presence of telaprevir by additional antiviral blockage by telaprevir. Model parameters, including rate constants for viral production, clearance, and effective telaprevir concentration, were estimated from 1) plasma HCV RNA levels of subjects before, during, and after dosing, 2) post-dosing prevalence of plasma variants from subjects, and 3) sensitivity of variants to telaprevir in the HCV replicon. The model provided a good fit to plasma HCV RNA levels observed both during and after telaprevir dosing, as well as to variant prevalence observed after telaprevir dosing. After an initial sharp decline in HCV RNA levels during dosing with telaprevir, HCV RNA levels increased in some subjects. The model predicted this increase to be caused by pre-existing variants with sufficient fitness to expand once available replication space increased due to rapid clearance of wild-type (WT) virus. The average replicative fitness estimates in the absence of telaprevir ranged from 1% to 68% of WT fitness. Compared to the relative fitness method, the in vivo estimates from the viral dynamic model corresponded more closely to in vitro replicon data, as well as to qualitative behaviors observed in both on-dosing and long-term post-dosing clinical data. The modeling fitness estimates were robust in sensitivity analyses in which the restoration dynamics of replication space and assumptions of HCV mutation rates were varied.
- 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.
- Association of IFNL3 rs12979860 and rs8099917 with Biochemical Predictors of Interferon Responsiveness in Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection (2013)
- Background & Aims: Genetic variations near the interferon lambda 3 gene (IFNL3, IL28B) are the most powerful predictors for sustained virologic response (SVR) in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, compared to other biochemical or histological baseline parameters. We evaluated whether the interplay of both IFNL3 polymorphisms rs12979860 and rs8099917 together with non-genetic clinical factors contributes to the predictive role of these genetic variants. Methods: The cohort comprised 1,402 patients of European descent with chronic HCV type 1 infection. 1,298 patients received interferon-based antiviral therapy, and 719 (55%) achieved SVR. The IFNL3 polymorphisms were genotyped by polymerase chain reaction and melting curve analysis. Results: A significant correlation was found between the IFNL3 polymorphisms and biochemical as well as virologic predictors of treatment outcome such as ALT, GGT, cholesterol, and HCV RNA levels. In multivariate regression analysis, IFLN3 SNPs, HCV RNA levels, and the GGT/ALT ratio were independent predictors of SVR. Dependent on the GGT/ALT ratio and on the HCV RNA concentration, significant variations in the likelihood for achieving SVR were observed in both, carriers of the responder as well as non-responder alleles. Conclusions: Our data support a clear association between IFNL3 genotypes and baseline parameters known to impact interferon responsiveness. Improved treatment outcome prediction was achieved when these predictors were considered in combination with the IFNL3 genotype.
- Baseline MELD score predicts hepatic decompensation during antiviral therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis C and advanced cirrhosis (2013)
- Background and Aims: In patients with advanced liver cirrhosis due to chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection antiviral therapy with peginterferon and ribavirin is feasible in selected cases only due to potentially life-threatening side effects. However, predictive factors associated with hepatic decompensation during antiviral therapy are poorly defined. Methods: In a retrospective cohort study, 68 patients with HCV-associated liver cirrhosis (mean MELD score 9.18±2.72) were treated with peginterferon and ribavirin. Clinical events indicating hepatic decompensation (onset of ascites, hepatic encephalopathy, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, hospitalization) as well as laboratory data were recorded at baseline and during a follow up period of 72 weeks after initiation of antiviral therapy. To monitor long term sequelae of end stage liver disease an extended follow up for HCC development, transplantation and death was applied (240weeks, ±SD 136weeks). Results: Eighteen patients (26.5%) achieved a sustained virologic response. During the observational period a hepatic decompensation was observed in 36.8%. Patients with hepatic decompensation had higher MELD scores (10.84 vs. 8.23, p<0.001) and higher mean bilirubin levels (26.74 vs. 14.63 µmol/l, p<0.001), as well as lower serum albumin levels (38.2 vs. 41.1 g/l, p = 0.015), mean platelets (102.64 vs. 138.95/nl, p = 0.014) and mean leukocytes (4.02 vs. 5.68/nl, p = 0.002) at baseline as compared to those without decompensation. In the multivariate analysis the MELD score remained independently associated with hepatic decompensation (OR 1.56, 1.18–2.07; p = 0.002). When the patients were grouped according to their baseline MELD scores, hepatic decompensation occurred in 22%, 59%, and 83% of patients with MELD scores of 6–9, 10–13, and >14, respectively. Baseline MELD score was significantly associated with the risk for transplantation/death (p<0.001). Conclusions: Our data suggest that the baseline MELD score predicts the risk of hepatic decompensation during antiviral therapy and thus contributes to decision making when antiviral therapy is discussed in HCV patients with advanced liver cirrhosis.
- Comparison of ELF, FibroTest and FibroScan for the non-invasive assessment of liver fibrosis (2010)
- Background: FibroTest (FT) is the most frequently used serum fibrosis marker and consists of an algorithm of five fibrosis markers (alfa2-macroglobulin, apolipoproteinA1, haptoglobin, GGT, bilirubin). The Enhanced Liver Fibrosis (ELF) test consists of an algorithm of three fibrosis markers (hyaluronic acid, amino-terminal propeptide-of-type-III-collagen, tissue-inhibitor of matrix-metaloproteinase-1). While a systematic review has shown comparable results for both individual markers, there has been no direct comparison of both markers. Methods: In the present study, the ELF-test was analyzed retrospectively in patients with chronic liver disease, who received a liver biopsy, transient elastography (TE) and the FibroTest using histology as the reference method. Histology was classified according to METAVIR and the Ludwig's classification (F0-F4) for patients with chronic hepatitis C and B virus (HCV, HBV) infection and primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), respectively. Results: Seventy-four patients were analysed: 36 with HCV, 10 with HBV, and 28 with PBC. The accuracy (AUROC) for the diagnosis of significant fibrosis (F[greater than or equal to]2) for ELF and FibroTest was 0.78 (95%CI:0.67-0.89) and 0.69 (95%-CI:0.57-0.82), respectively (difference not statistically significant, n.s.). The AUROC for the diagnosis of liver cirrhosis was 0.92 (95%CI:0.83-1,00), and 0.91 (95%CI:0.83-0.99), respectively (n.s.). For 66 patients with reliable TE measurements the AUROC for the diagnosis of significant fibrosis (cirrhosis) for TE, ELF and FT were 0.80 (0.94), 0.76 (0.92), and 0.67 (0.91), respectively (n.s.). Conclusion: FibroTest and ELF can be performed with comparable diagnostic accuracy for the non-invasive staging of liver fibrosis. Serum tests are informative in a higher proportion of patients than transient elastography.
- 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.
- 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.