This study aimed to assess the associations of human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DR and interleukin (IL)-18 gene polymorphisms with hepatitis B virus (HBV).
Clinical data were retrospectively reviewed between December 2006 and December 2015 at Xiangyang Central Hospital. HBV patients were assigned to the high and low viral load groups, respectively, according to HBV copies. HLA-DRB1*03 polymorphisms and IL-18 polymorphisms were detected by sequence-specific primer-polymerase chain reaction (PCR-SSP) and PCR-ligase detection reaction (PCR-LDR), respectively. T cell subgroups were identified by flow cytometry, and IL-18, IL-12, interferon-γ (IFN-γ), IL-4, and IL-10 expression levels were assessed by ELISA. A total of 630 subjects were included in the analysis.
Compared with healthy controls, the chronic HBV group showed significantly lower IL-18 (P < .001), IL-12 (P < .001), and IFN-γ (P < .001) expression levels, and markedly increased IL-4 (P < .001) and IL-10 (P < .001) amounts. Th2 cytokine expression was high in HLA-DRB1*03 positive (+) HBV patients, with low Th1 cytokine levels. The ratios of CD4+/CD8+ and Th1/Th2 cells decreased with increasing HBV DNA levels. The chronic HBV group showed a relatively high frequency of -137G in the IL-18 gene, while IL-18 expression was low in homozygous GG genotype individuals.
Polymorphisms in the HLA-DRB1*03 and IL-18 genes are associated with viral load in HBV. HLA-DRB1 and IL-18 gene polymorphisms are involved in the regulation of the Th1/Th2 balance and expression of relevant cytokines that influence immune responses in HBV.