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Epigenetic analysis of the IFNλ3 gene identifies a novel marker for response to therapy in HCV-infected subjects.

  • Waring, J F1
  • Davis, J W1
  • Dumas, E1
  • Cohen, D1
  • Idler, K1
  • Abel, S1
  • Georgantas, R1
  • Podsadecki, T1
  • Dutta, S1
  • 1 AbbVie Inc., North Chicago, IL, USA.
Published Article
Journal of Viral Hepatitis
Wiley (Blackwell Publishing)
Publication Date
Dec 07, 2016
DOI: 10.1111/jvh.12661
PMID: 27925355


Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is characterized by high interindividual variability in response to pegylated interferon and ribavirin. A genetic polymorphism on chromosome 19 (rs12979860) upstream of interferon-λ3 (IFNλ3) is associated with a twofold change in sustained virologic response rate after 48 weeks of treatment with pegylated interferon/ribavirin in HCV genotype 1 (GT1) treatment-naïve patients. We conducted epigenetic analysis on the IFNλ3 promoter to investigate whether DNA methylation is associated with response to HCV therapy. DNA samples from HCV GT1-infected subjects receiving an interferon-free paritaprevir-containing combination regimen (N=540) and from HCV-uninfected, healthy controls (N=124) were analysed for IFNλ3 methylation levels. Methylation was strongly associated with rs12979860 allele status whether adjusting for HCV status (r=65.0%, 95% CI: [60.2%, 69.5%]), or not (r=64.4%), both with P<2.2×10-16 . In HCV GT1-infected subjects, C/C genotypes had significantly lower methylation levels relative to C/T or T/T genotypes (P<1×10-14 ), with each T allele resulting in a nine-unit increase in mean methylation level. Methylation levels did not correlate with response in subjects treated for 12 or 24 weeks. However, non-C/C subjects with higher methylation levels were more likely to relapse when treatment duration was 8 weeks. This analysis suggests that methylation status of the IFNλ3 promoter region may be a useful parameter that identifies patients more likely to relapse following HCV therapy; however, continuing therapy for a sufficient duration can overcome this difference. These findings may provide mechanistic insight into the role of IFNλ3 genetic variants in HCV treatment response.

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