Interferon λ3 gene (IL28B) is associated with spontaneous or treatment-induced viral clearance in hepatitis C virus–infected multitransfused patients with thalassemia

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BACKGROUND:Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the major posttransfusion infection in multitransfused individuals in India with thalassemia major. To our knowledge, this study is the first conducted to correlate and comprehend the effects of the host interleukin (IL)28B gene polymorphism at loci rs12979860 and rs8099917 in spontaneous or interferon (IFN)-induced treatment response in the HCV-seroreactive individuals with thalassemia major.STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS:A total of 557 HCV-seroreactive individuals with thalassemia were processed for HCV viral genotyping and host IL28B single-nucleotide polymorphism analysis at loci rs12979860 and rs8099917.RESULTS:Of 557 individuals, 70.92% were found to be HCV RNA positive with Genotype 3 (95.18%) as predominant strain. A favorable CC allele at locus rs2979860 and TT allele at rs8099917 were 75.31 and 77.16%, respectively, which was strongly associated with spontaneous clearance of infection (p < 0.05). Of 85 IFN-treated cases, 56 achieved sustained virologic response (SVR) whereas 27 were relapsed cases. Among these patients who achieved SVR, a favorable CC/TT allele at rs12979860/rs8099917 was found to be predominant with 76.79 and 66.07%, respectively, whereas in the case of relapsed patients, unfavorable CT (55.56%) and TG (59.26%) alleles were found to be predominant. Additionally, low serum ferritin level was significantly associated with SVR.CONCLUSION:CC at rs12979860 and TT at rs8099917 was strongly associated with spontaneous clearance and SVR in the population with thalassemia. Low age group and low serum ferritin level are important cofactors. This allelic pattern will aid clinicians in making an informed decision about prognosis and therapeutic management.

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