- 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 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.
- 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 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.
- Serum microRNA-21 as marker for necroinflammation in hepatitis C patients with and without hepatocellular carcinoma (2011)
- Background: MicroRNA-21 (miR-21) is up-regulated in tumor tissue of patients with malignant diseases, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Elevated concentrations of miR-21 have also been found in sera or plasma from patients with malignancies, rendering it an interesting candidate as serum/plasma marker for malignancies. Here we correlated serum miR-21 levels with clinical parameters in patients with different stages of chronic hepatitis C virus infection (CHC) and CHC-associated HCC. Methodology/Principal Findings: 62 CHC patients, 29 patients with CHC and HCC and 19 healthy controls were prospectively enrolled. RNA was extracted from the sera and miR-21 as well as miR-16 levels were analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR; miR-21 levels (normalized by miR-16) were correlated with standard liver parameters, histological grading and staging of CHC. The data show that serum levels of miR-21 were elevated in patients with CHC compared to healthy controls (P<0.001); there was no difference between serum miR-21 in patients with CHC and CHC-associated HCC. Serum miR-21 levels correlated with histological activity index (HAI) in the liver (r = −0.494, P = 0.00002), alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (r = −0.309, P = 0.007), aspartate aminotransferase (r = −0.495, P = 0.000007), bilirubin (r = −0.362, P = 0.002), international normalized ratio (r = −0.338, P = 0.034) and γ-glutamyltransferase (r = −0.244, P = 0.034). Multivariate analysis revealed that ALT and miR-21 serum levels were independently associated with HAI. At a cut-off dCT of 1.96, miR-21 discriminated between minimal and mild-severe necroinflammation (AUC = 0.758) with a sensitivity of 53.3% and a specificity of 95.2%. Conclusions/Significance: The serum miR-21 level is a marker for necroinflammatory activity, but does not differ between patients with HCV and HCV-induced HCC.
- Vitamin D Levels Vary during Antiviral Treatment but Are Unable to Predict Treatment Outcome in HCV Genotype 1 Infected Patients (2014)
- 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.