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HLA Class I alleles associated with HCV polymorphisms and response to antiviral therapy in HCV genotype 1-infected patients

Journal of Hepatology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0168-8278(10)60696-4
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Aims: The adaptive immune response against hepatitis C virus (HCV) is significantly shaped by the host's composition of HLA alleles. Thus, the HLA phenotype is a critical determinant of viral evolution during adaptive immune pressure. Potential associations of HLA class I alleles with polymorphisms of HCV immune escape variants are largely unknown. Methods: Direct sequence analysis of the genes encoding the HCV proteins E2, NS3 and NS5B in a cohort of 159 patients with chronic HCV genotype 1 infection who were treated with pegylated interferon-alfa 2b and ribavirin in a prospective controlled trial for 48 weeks was exhibited. HLA class I genotyping was performed by strand-specific reverse hybridization with the INNO-LiPA line probe assays for HLA-A and HLA-B and by strand-specific PCR-SSP. We analyzed each amino acid position of HCV proteins using an extension of Fisher's exact test for associations with HLA alleles. In addition, associations of specific HLA alleles with inflammatory activity, liver fibrosis, HCV RNA viral load and virologic treatment outcome were investigated. Results: Separate analyses of HCV subtype 1a and 1b isolates revealed substantially different patterns of HLA-restricted polymorphisms between subtypes. Only one polymorphism within NS5B (V2758x) was significantly associated with HLA B*15 in HCV genotype 1b infected patients (adjusted p=0,048). However, a number of HLA class I-restricted polymorphisms within novel putative HCV CD8+ T cell epitopes (genotype 1a: HLA-A*11 GTRTIASPK1086-1094 [NS3], HLA-B*07 WPAPQGARSL1111-1120 [NS3]; genotype 1b: HLA-A*24 HYAPRPCGI488-496 [E2], HLA-B*44 GENETDVLL530-538 [E2], HLA-B*15 RVFTEAMTRY2757-2766 [NS5B]) were observed with high predicted epitope binding scores assessed by the web-based software SYFPEITHI (>21). Most of the identified putative epitopes were overlapping with already otherwise published epitopes, indicating a high immunogenicity of the accordant HCV protein region. In addition, certain HLA class I alleles were associated with inflammatory activity, stage of liver fibrosis, and sustained virologic response to antiviral therapy. Conclusions: HLA class I restricted HCV sequence polymorphisms are rare. HCV polymorphisms identified within putative HCV CD8+ T cell epitopes in the present study differ in their genomic distribution between genotype 1a and 1b isolates, implying divergent adaptation to the host's immune pressure on the HCV subtype level.

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