AIM: To investigate the relationship between low molecular polypeptide-7 (LMP-7) gene polymorphism and response to interferon (IFN) therapy in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) patients.
METHODS: LMP-7 polymorphism at codon 49 with nucleotide substitution from A to C was amplified in 104 chronic HCV patients of genotype 4. The amplicons were digested with restriction endonuclease BsmI and the produced restriction fragment length polymorphism was analyzed. Patients received IFN + regional blood volume therapy for 48 wk and the frequency of this single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) was statistically correlated with treatment response. The exclusion criteria for these patients were stated by the national health program for treating viral hepatitis. Main exclusion criteria included co-infection with hepatitis B virus or schistosomiasis, thyroid dysfunction, uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, history of long term drug or alcohol intake and autoimmune hepatitis. Multivariate analyses were done to correlate LMP-7 SNP plus several factors such as age, gender, weight, serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and alanine aminotransferase levels, liver activity, fibrosis score and viral load with response to therapy.
RESULTS: The data presented in this study clearly demonstrated statistically significant differences between sustained virological response (SVR) (defined as the absence of HCV RNA levels in the patient’s sera at least 6 mo after discontinuation of treatment) and non-response (NR) (where HCV RNA levels in the patient’s sera never become undetectable for 6 mo during or after treatment). Variables were described as odds ratio with 95%CI. The data were considered significant if P values were ≤ 0.05; highly significant if P < 0.01 and very highly significant if P < 0.001. Current data showed that 91.7% of patients carrying LMP-7 C/C allele were associated with SVR, while the other two genotypes C/A and A/A were associated with NR patients, 83.3% and 64.3% respectively, showing that genotype CC was strongly associated with response to interferon (95%CI: 12.0719-134.6572, P = 0.0001). The majority of parameters recorded in SVR and NR patients included higher values of mean age (P = 0.004), alanine aminotransferase (P = 0.001), AFP (P = 0.001), body weight (P = 0.025), viral load (P = 0.025), higher fibrosis and histological activity index indices among NR vs SVR patients. Also, the multivariate statistical analysis of the different factors of fibrosis score, liver activity grade, genotypes and alleles of LMP-7 gene polymorphism in responders and NRs of HCV patients in this study showed that HCV patients with A allele had a very highly significant association with the NRs, high fibrosis and higher liver activity, while the C allele had a very highly significant association with the responders, low fibrosis and lower liver activity (95%CI: 3.5800-13.2519, P = 0.0001).
CONCLUSION: LMP-7 SNP is a candidate gene that should be considered when designing a mathematical model for predicting response to therapy and disease progression in HCV patients.