BackgroundThe aim of this study is to ascertain whether the TLL1 variant at rs17047200 is associated with the development of HCC after achieving sustained virological response (SVR) by interferon (IFN)-free therapy for chronic hepatitis C (CHC).MethodsA total of 1029 Japanese CHC patients with the following inclusion criteria were enrolled: (i) achieved SVR by IFN-free therapy, (ii) followed up at least 1 year from the end of treatment (EOT) (median 104 weeks), (iii) no history of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) by 1 year from the EOT.ResultsNineteen patients developed HCC (HCC group) and 1010 did not (non-HCC group). The proportion of rs17047200 AT/TT was significantly higher in the HCC group than the non-HCC group (47.4% vs. 20.1%, P = 0.008). Multivariate analysis showed that higher levels of α-fetoprotein, FIB-4 and rs17047200 AT/TT were independent risk factors for developing HCC (HR = 3.22, P = 0.021 for α-fetoprotein > 4.6 ng/ml; HR = 3.89, P = 0.036 for FIB-4 > 2.67; HR = 2.80, P = 0.026 for rs17047200 AT/TT). Cumulative incidence of HCC was significantly higher in patients with rs17047200 AT/TT than in those with AA (P = 0.006). Comparing clinical characteristics according to the TLL1 genotypes, patients with rs17047200 AT/TT had significantly lower platelet counts and higher levels of FIB-4 than those with AA (P = 0.011 and 0.032, respectively).ConclusionsThe TLL1 variant was independently associated with HCC development after HCV eradication by IFN-free regimen. It might be involved in hepatic fibrogenesis and thereby carcinogenesis.