Interleukin-17A and B-cell activating factor in chronic hepatitis C patients with or without asymptomatic mixed cryoglobulinemia: effects of antiviral treatment and correlations with vitamin D

Authors Polydoros Konstantinides, Alexandra Alexopoulou, Emilia Hadziyannis, Theoni Kanellopoulou, Spyros P. Dourakis.


Background Several studies have provided conflicting results regarding the immune responses in chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients with mixed cryoglobulinemia (MC). The importance of B-cell activating factor (BAFF) in MC has been described, but the role of interleukin (IL)-17A is less clear.

Methods Serum concentrations of IL-17A, BAFF and 25-OH vitamin D were measured in CHC patients at baseline, end of treatment, and 6 months post-treatment with pegylated interferon-α and ribavirin, versus 12 healthy controls.

Results Thirty-four patients (20 male, mean age 40.7±9.2 years, 12 of genotype 1 or 4, 22 of genotype 2 or 3) were included, of whom 64.7% achieved a sustained virological response (SVR). MC was detected in 52.9% of the patients. Higher levels of both cytokines were found in patients with MC compared to those without. Patients who achieved SVR had higher pretreatment IL-17A and lower BAFF levels compared to those without SVR. IL- 7A was downregulated during and following treatment in responders, whereas upregulation was observed in non- esponders. CHC patients demonstrated low vitamin D levels compared to HC. Moreover, the changes in IL-17A
over the treatment period were significantly associated with vitamin D changes (β=-0.04, SE=0.02, P=0.046). No difference in IL-17A, BAFF and vitamin D values was seen between patients with cirrhosis (n=14) and those without.

Conclusions CHC patients with asymptomatic MC have increased levels of IL-17A and BAFF. IL- 17A levels decline significantly while BAFF increases during treatment in responders. An interplay between IL-17A and vitamin D concentrations was revealed during the antiviral treatment.

Keywords Interleukin 17A, B-cell activating factor, vitamin D, chronic hepatitis C, mixed cryoglobulinemia

Ann Gastroenterol 2018; 31 (6): 705-711

Original Articles