OBJECTIVES: The C allele of the single nucleotide polymorphism rs12979860, located near the interleukin-28B (IL-28B) gene, has a strong impact on hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment response, as well as on spontaneous viral clearance. In patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC), genotype CC carriers harbour HCV genotype 3 more commonly than those with non-CC genotypes. The aim of this study was to compare the HCV genotype distributions, according to IL-28B genotype, in HIV-infected patients with CHC and those with acute hepatitis C (AHC).
METHODS: The rs12979860 genotype was determined by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in two subpopulations of HIV-infected patients. The first consisted of 80 German patients with AHC. The second consisted of 476 patients with CHC, belonging to one German and two Spanish cohorts.
RESULTS: In the AHC group, 31 (81.6%) rs12979860 CC carriers were infected with HCV genotype 1 or 4 vs. 32 (76.2%) among non-CC carriers (P=0.948). In patients with CHC, among those with the CC genotype, 119 (54.6%) were infected with HCV genotype 1 or 4 and 99 (45.4%) with genotype 2 or 3, whereas in the subset with non-CC genotypes, 200 (77.5%) harboured HCV genotype 1 or 4 and 58 (22.5%) genotype 2 or 3 (P<0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Among HIV-infected patients with CHC, those bearing the IL-28B genotype CC were more commonly infected with genotype 3 than subjects with non-CC genotypes, whereas in HIV-infected subjects with AHC this finding was not obtained. These results strongly suggest that the protective effect of the CC genotype against evolution to CHC is mainly exerted in patients infected with HCV genotype 1 or 4.