Relationship between antibodies to hepatitis C virus core+1 protein and treatment outcome

Authors Theodora Mylopoulou, Vasileios Papadopoulos, Katerina Kassela, Ioannis Karakasioliotis, Fani Souvalidou, Panagiotis Mimidis, Stavroula Veletza, Penelope Mavromara, Konstantinos Mimidis.


Background It has been suggested that hepatitis C virus (HCV) core+1 protein plays a crucial role in the viral life cycle, potentially affecting liver cirrhosis and the development of hepatocellular carcinoma.

Methods To investigate its relationship with the outcome of HCV standard combination therapy with peginterferon-α plus ribavirin, we screened 139 consecutive HCV patients (119 with chronic HCV infection and 20 who spontaneously cleared HCV) for the presence of anti-core+1 antibodies (Abs). In addition, liver fibrosis was determined by FibroScan in all but one patients.

Results Twenty-nine patients were cirrhotic (stiffness >12.5 kPa, F4 METAVIR), all of them with mild liver cirrhosis (Child-Pugh score A). Eighty-six of 139 patients were treatment-experienced with standard combination therapy. Fifty of them had achieved a sustained virological response, while 36 were non-responders. The prevalence of anti-core+1 Abs in patients with chronic HCV infection was 22.69% (27/119 patients): 18% (9/50 patients) in responders and 36.11% (13/36 patients) in non-responders (P=0.050). Five (17.24%) of the 29 cirrhotic patients and 22 (24.72%) of the 89 non-cirrhotic patients were positive for anti-core+1 Abs (P=0.405). Furthermore, the presence of anti-core+1 Abs correlated with the poor response interleukin (IL) 28B genotype TT (P=0.040). No correlation between spontaneous clearance and anti-core+1 Abs was observed (P=0.088).

Conclusion The presence of anti-core+1 Abs might be correlated with the poor response IL28B TT genotype and may negatively affect the outcome of standard combination treatments in HCV patients, suggesting that core+1 may play a biological role in the course of HCV infection.

Keywords Core+1/ARF protein, hepatitis C treatment, IL28B, IFNλ4, prognostic factors for HCV treatment

Ann Gastroenterol 2018; 31 (5): 593-597

Original Articles