Source Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, MI, USA.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: The aim of this study was to explore the association of a functional YKL-40 promoter polymorphism (rs4950928) with baseline disease stage, response to antiviral therapy and risk of liver disease progression in a group of patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC).
METHODS: YKL-40 promoter polymorphisms were determined in 456 Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-term Treatment against Cirrhosis (HALT-C) Trial patients with bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis entering a prerandomization lead-in peginterferon/ribavirin 24-week treatment phase and in 462 patients followed for a mean of 3.8 years after randomization to maintenance peginterferon or observation.
RESULTS: Mean patient age was 49.5 years, 70.4% were men and 71.2% were Caucasian. The 17% frequency of the YKL-40 minor allele (T) was similar to that reported in the general population. YKL-40 genotype was associated significantly with baseline serum YKL-40 levels but was not associated with the likelihood of a virological response following 24-48 weeks of peginterferon/ribavirin therapy. Serum YKL-40 levels remained significantly lower during follow-up in the randomized TT homozygotes compared with CT heterozygotes and CC homozygotes (P < 0.001). Despite this association, YKL-40 genotype was not associated with the risk of clinical or histological liver disease progression.
CONCLUSIONS: A reduced frequency of the protective YKL-40 promoter polymorphism was not observed in the HALT-C Trial patient population. The absence of an association between YKL-40 promoter polymorphisms and baseline liver disease severity as well as with the risk of liver disease progression over time suggests that this polymorphism is not associated with disease progression in CHC patients with established fibrosis.