Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital, Taipei Branch.
IL-21R polymorphisms have been identified as potential predictors of virologic outcomes in Western chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients receiving interferon-based treatment. We aimed to examine the associations of IL-21R genotypes and serum IL-21 levels with virologic responses to interferon-based treatment in Asian CHC patients.
Genomic and clinical data were collected from 178 consecutive Taiwanese HCV genotype 1 patients who received interferon-based therapy and 72 non-HCV healthy subjects. Among them, serum IL-21 levels, IL-21R and IL28B genotypes were determined in 124 CHC patients and healthy controls.
Among patients with IL28B rs8099917 non-TT genotypes, patients with IL-21R rs3093390 CC genotype had a higher SVR rate than those with non-CC genotypes (CC vs. non-CC: 14/24 vs. 0/4, P=0.031). Compared to non-HCV controls, CHC patients had higher serum IL-21 levels [HCV vs. non-HCV: 377.8±780.9 vs. 70.5±33.2(pg/mL), P=0.001]. Patients with SVR had higher pretreatment serum IL-21 levels than those without (Adjusted Odds Ratio, 95%CI: 0.23, 0.07-0.80, P=0.021).
CHC patients have higher serum IL-21 levels than healthy adults. Higher pretreatment serum IL-21 levels and IL-21R polymorphisms may serve as potential factors predictive of treatment outcomes in CHC patients with interferon-based therapy.