IFNL3 (IL28B) polymorphism does not predict long-term response to interferon therapy in HBeAg-positive chronic hepatitis B patients

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The impact of IFNL3 (IL28B) polymorphism on response to interferon (IFN) treatment in patients infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV) is controversial. We aimed to investigate whether IFNL3 polymorphism (rs12979860) influences the long-term response of chronic hepatitis B (CHB) treatment to conventional IFN. Design: Ninety-seven HBeAg-positive patients treated with IFN were evaluated in this study. Associations were investigated between IFNL3 genotypes and (i) HBeAg seroconversion at the end of treatment (EOT), (ii) sustained virological response (SVR) and (iii) HBsAg seroconversion through long-term follow-up (LTFU). Patients were followed for a median of 14 years. The majority of patients were infected with HBV genotype A (69.6%) and were Caucasian (77.9%). Ninety-five patients were genotyped at rs12979860. Similar IFNL3 distribution was observed among the different ethnicities (P = 0.62) or across HBV genotypes A through G (P = 0.70). Thirty-six patients experienced HBeAg seroconversion at EOT; HBeAg seroconversion rates were 37.0 and 35.5% in patients with CC and CT/TT genotypes, respectively (P = 0.82). Among the 44 patients (45%) who achieved a SVR, SVR rates were 48.9 and 39.6% in patients with CC and CT/TT IL28B genotypes, respectively (P = 0.80). HBsAg seroconversion occurred through LTFU in 28 patients. HBsAg seroconversion rates were 25.5 and 31.2% in patients with CC and CT/TT genotypes, respectively (P = 0.51). No significant relationship between IFNL3 rs12979860 and fibrosis stage was observed (P = 0.85). IFNL3 genotype was neither associated with SVR, nor with HBeAg seroconversion and long-term HBsAg seroconversion in HBeAg-positive CHB patients responding to IFN therapy.

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