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      USP18 downregulation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells predicts nonresponse to interferon-based triple therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis C, genotype 1: a pilot study


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          Background and aims

          Patients with advanced liver fibrosis owing to chronic hepatitis C virus genotype 1 represent a difficult-to-treat group even if a protease inhibitor is added to pegylated interferon alpha and ribavirin. Therefore, only patients with a high chance of cure should be treated with interferon-based treatment.

          Patients and methods

          Expression of IFNG, IFNLR1, and interferon-sensitive genes CXCL9, IFI16, IFI27, ISG15, and USP18 in peripheral blood mononuclear cells was assessed before and during the initial 12 weeks of treatment. The studied group consisted of 26 treatment-experienced patients of average age of 50 years with advanced liver fibrosis compared to seven healthy volunteers. Fourteen patients were treated with pegylated interferon alpha 2b, ribavirin, and boceprevir and 12 patients with telaprevir. The overall sustained virological response (SVR) rate was 69% (18/26).


          A significant difference in the initial expression (median, interquartile range [IQR]) of CXCL9 2.9×, IQR: 1.7–12.4 vs 1.2×, IQR: 0.5–1.8; ( P=0.01) IFNG 7.3×, IQR: 1.7–32.6 vs 0.7×, IQR: 0.4–1.3; P=0.002 and USP18 3.7×, IQR: 2.1–7.7 vs 1.4×, IQR: 0.9–1.6; ( P=0.03) was found between the SVR and non-SVR groups. Expression of all analyzed genes was progressively increasing during the first 12 weeks of therapy, but a significant difference between SVR and non-SVR group was found only in USP18 expression at week 12 ( P=0.001). Initial expression of four genes predicted SVR in univariate analysis ( CXCL9 [OR: 12.00, 95% CI: 1.21–118.89], IFI27 [OR: 12.00, 95% CI: 1.21–118.89], IFNG [OR: 10.50, 95% CI: 1.50–73.67], USP18 [OR: 21.00, 95% CI: 2.05–215.18]). In multivariate analysis, only the initial expression of USP18 was identified as a predictor of SVR ( P=0.047).


          Initial expression of USP18 and the course of its activation could be a reliable predictor of SVR achievement.

          Most cited references17

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          A variant upstream of IFNL3 (IL28B) creating a new interferon gene IFNL4 is associated with impaired clearance of hepatitis C virus.

          Chronic infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer. We performed RNA sequencing in primary human hepatocytes activated with synthetic double-stranded RNA to mimic HCV infection. Upstream of IFNL3 (IL28B) on chromosome 19q13.13, we discovered a new transiently induced region that harbors a dinucleotide variant ss469415590 (TT or ΔG), which is in high linkage disequilibrium with rs12979860, a genetic marker strongly associated with HCV clearance. ss469415590[ΔG] is a frameshift variant that creates a novel gene, designated IFNL4, encoding the interferon-λ4 protein (IFNL4), which is moderately similar to IFNL3. Compared to rs12979860, ss469415590 is more strongly associated with HCV clearance in individuals of African ancestry, although it provides comparable information in Europeans and Asians. Transient overexpression of IFNL4 in a hepatoma cell line induced STAT1 and STAT2 phosphorylation and the expression of interferon-stimulated genes. Our findings provide new insights into the genetic regulation of HCV clearance and its clinical management.
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            Hepatic ISG expression is associated with genetic variation in interleukin 28B and the outcome of IFN therapy for chronic hepatitis C.

            Multiple viral and host factors are related to the treatment response to pegylated-interferon and ribavirin combination therapy; however, the clinical relevance and relationship of these factors have not yet been fully evaluated. We studied 168 patients with chronic hepatitis C who received pegylated-interferon and ribavirin combination therapy. Gene expression profiles in the livers of 91 patients were analyzed using an Affymetrix genechip (Affymetrix, Santa Clara, CA). The expression of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) was evaluated in all samples by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Genetic variation in interleukin 28B (IL28B; rs8099917) was determined in 91 patients. Gene expression profiling of the liver differentiated patients into 2 groups: patients with up-regulated ISGs and patients with down-regulated ISGs. A high proportion of patients with no response to treatment was found in the up-regulated ISGs group (P=.002). Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that ISGs ( or=2) (OR, 5.09; P=.003) were strongly associated with the viral response. The IL28B polymorphism of 91 patients showed that 66% were major homozygotes (TT), 30% were heterozygotes (TG), and 4% were minor homozygotes (GG). Interestingly, hepatic ISGs were associated with the IL28B polymorphism (OR, 18.1; P<.001), and its expression was significantly higher in patients with the minor genotype (TG or GG) than in those with the major genotype (TT). The expression of hepatic ISGs is strongly associated with treatment response and genetic variation of IL28B. The differential role of host and viral factors as predicting factors may also be present. Copyright (c) 2010 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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              Interferon-induced gene expression is a stronger predictor of treatment response than IL28B genotype in patients with hepatitis C.

              The host immune response during the chronic phase of hepatitis C virus infection varies among individuals; some patients have a no interferon (IFN) response in the liver, whereas others have full activation of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs). Preactivation of this endogenous IFN system is associated with nonresponse to pegylated IFN-α (pegIFN-α) and ribavirin. Genome-wide association studies have associated allelic variants near the IL28B (IFNλ3) gene with treatment response. We investigated whether IL28B genotype determines the constitutive expression of ISGs in the liver and compared the abilities of ISG levels and IL28B genotype to predict treatment outcome. We genotyped 109 patients with chronic hepatitis C for IL28B allelic variants and quantified the hepatic expression of ISGs and of IL28B. Decision tree ensembles, in the form of a random forest classifier, were used to calculate the relative predictive power of these different variables in a multivariate analysis. The minor IL28B allele was significantly associated with increased expression of ISG. However, stratification of the patients according to treatment response revealed increased ISG expression in nonresponders, irrespective of IL28B genotype. Multivariate analysis of ISG expression, IL28B genotype, and several other factors associated with response to therapy identified ISG expression as the best predictor of treatment response. IL28B genotype and hepatic expression of ISGs are independent predictors of response to treatment with pegIFN-α and ribavirin in patients with chronic hepatitis C. The most accurate prediction of response was obtained with a 4-gene classifier comprising IFI27, ISG15, RSAD2, and HTATIP2. Copyright © 2011 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                Ther Clin Risk Manag
                Ther Clin Risk Manag
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Dove Medical Press
                17 December 2015
                : 11
                : 1853-1861
                [1 ]Department of Hepatogastroenterology, Resuscitation and Intensive Care, Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Prague, Czech Republic
                [2 ]Laboratory of Experimental Hepatology, Resuscitation and Intensive Care, Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Prague, Czech Republic
                [3 ]Department of Anesthesiology, Resuscitation and Intensive Care, Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Prague, Czech Republic
                [4 ]Department of Internal Medicine, Central Military Hospital, First Medical School, Prague, Czech Republic
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Jan Sperl, Department of Hepatogastroenterology, Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Videnska 1958/9, 140 21 Prague 4, Czech Republic, Tel +420 261 364 003, Fax +420 261 362 602, Email jan.sperl@ 123456ikem.cz
                © 2015 Frankova et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Original Research

                chronic hepatitis c,interferon-sensitive gene,usp18,protease inhibitor,virological response


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