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1.  Heterogeneity and New Epitopes of Hepatitis C Virus Genotype 4 
Hepatitis Monthly  2013;13(8):e10521.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) was found to have a major role in human liver disease by its ability to face the host-cell defenses and the immune system. Heterogeneity of HCV was the key for its adaptation to its host and represented a significant hurdle for the development of both effective vaccines as well as for novel therapeutic interventions.
Due to the heterogeneity of HCV virus because of both high replication and high mutation rate in vivo, this study was conducted to analyze different isolates of Egyptian patients of genotype 4, of the most mutant regions of the virus (E1 and E2) as they played an important role in viral persistence by escaping from the immune system of the host body.
Patients and Methods
This study was conducted through PCR amplification of E1 and E2 regions, sequencing and phylogenetic analysis, calculating synonyms and non-synonyms substitutions, finding the possible glycosylation sites and different epitope domains.
The present work figured out that the heterogeneity of the quasispecies of our local strains 4a was high showing up 15% diversity. This study also showed four glycosylation sites that play an important role in the entry of the virus and protein folding. Besides, different epitpoes were identified in different regions of the E1 and E2 domains; a finding which would help in determining the neutralizing and non- neutralizing antibodies.
This study would help in understanding the driving forces of genetic diversity and would be fundamental for representing potential candidate targets for antibodies and the development of vaccine trials.
PMCID: PMC3796197  PMID: 24130599
Hepacivirus; Phylogenetic Analysis; Polysaccharides; Epitopes
2.  Association between low molecular polypeptide 7 single nucleotide polymorphism and response to therapy in hepatitis C virus infection 
World Journal of Hepatology  2013;5(3):97-103.
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.
PMCID: PMC3612579  PMID: 23556040
Hepatitis C virus; Interferon therapy; Low molecular mass polypeptide; Host gene; Single nucleotide polymorphism
3.  Positional effect of mutations in 5'UTR of hepatitis C virus 4a on patients' response to therapy 
AIM: To investigate the effects of mutations in domain III of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) internal ribosome entry sequences (IRES) on the response of chronic HCV genotype 4a patients to interferon therapy.
METHODS: HCV RNA was extracted from 19 chronic HCV 4a patients receiving interferon/ribavirin therapy who showed dramatic differences in their response to combination therapy after initial viral clearance. IRES domain III was cloned and 15 clones for each patient were sequenced. The obtained sequences were aligned with genotype 4a prototype using the ClustalW program and mutations scored. Prediction of stem-loop secondary structure and thermodynamic stability of the major quasispecies in each patient was performed using the MFOLD 3.2 program with Turner energies and selected constraints on base pairing.
RESULTS: Analysis of RNA secondary structure revealed that insertions in domain III altered Watson-Crick base pairing of stems and reduced molecular stability of RNA, which may ultimately reduce binding affinity to ribosomal proteins. Insertion mutations in domain III were statistically more prevalent in sustained viral response patients (SVR, n = 14) as compared to breakthrough (BT, n = 5) patients.
CONCLUSION: The influence of mutations within domain III on the response of HCV patients to combination therapy depends primarily on the position, but not the frequency, of these mutations within IRES domain III.
PMCID: PMC2665143  PMID: 19322922
Hepatitis C virus; Internal ribosome entry sequences; Domain III; Genotype 4a; Ribosomal subunit; Interferon therapy; RNA folding
4.  Predictors of Disease Recurrence Post Living Donor Liver Transplantation in End Stage Chronic HCV Patients 
Disease Markers  2014;2014:202548.
HCV recurrence represents a universal phenomenon after liver transplantation. In this study Fifty HCV patients who underwent living donor liver transplantation were enrolled and factors that may accelerate HCV reinfection of the allograft such as donor's age and degree of liver steatosis, recipient's age, gender, BMI, MELD score, liver functions, HCV viral load, type of immunosuppressive drug, and genetic polymorphisms of IL28B, OAS, and IL1B were studied. The results of disease-free survival (DFS) rates showed inverse correlation with the recipient's postoperative levels of ALT, AST, ALP (P < 0.001, <0.001, and 0.006 resp.) as well as pre- and postoperative titers of HCV RNA (P < 0.003 and <0.001 resp.). Recipient's IL28B SNP was a significant factor in predicting postoperative DFS (P < 0.025). However, SNPs in OAS and IL1B genes had no apparent correlation with DFS. Cox proportional hazards model revealed that patients with elevated levels of ALT, preoperative viral titers, IL28B CT, and IL28B TT were 8.28, 4.22, 3.35, and 1.36 times, respectively, more likely to develop recurrence. In conclusion IL28B SNP, ALT level, and preoperative HCV titer besides proper choice of immunosuppressant are helpful for predicting posttransplant HCV recurrence and DFS.
PMCID: PMC3948502
5.  A Study of CC-Chemokine Receptor 5 (CCR5) Polymorphism on the Outcome of HCV Therapy in Egyptian Patients 
Hepatitis Monthly  2013;13(12):e13721.
Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a globally serious public health issue.
In this study, we investigated CC chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5-59029) polymorphism which is considered an important component of the immune system in determining the outcome of HCV infection. Its critical role as a marker in response to interferon therapy of HCV infection is also investigated besides its effect on other clinical patient factors.
Patients and Methods:
This study was conducted on 82 Egyptian patients with chronic Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection who received PEG-INF + Ribavirin treatment for 48 weeks. The study was also conducted on 50 healthy controls (with negative results for HCV antibody and RNA PCR). Full history of patients in this study was recorded. Clinical and histological examinations, qualitative HCV nested RT-PCR, quantitative real –time PCR, and genotyping of HCV RNA genome were performed. CCR5-59029 polymorphism with nucleotide substitution from G to A was amplified. The amplicons were digested with restriction endonuclease Bsp 1286I, and produced RFLPs of the CCR5 genotypes were determined.
The present study showed a significant association between the functional SNP of CCR5 gene and the viral response to interferon in chronic HCV Egyptian patients. It was shown that the higher fibrosis stages (F2-F4) had significant association with nonresponse to treatment compared to the lower fibrosis stages (F0-F1) (95% confidence: 5.497 - 55.074, P = 0.0001). In addition, worse liver activity grade (A2-A3) had a very highly significant association with non-responder HCV patients compared to those with better liver activity grade (A1) (95% confidence: 2.242 - 20.974, P = 0.0007). Most importantly HCV patients with G allele had a high significant association with nonresponse to treatment, higher fibrosis stages and worse liver activity grades, while the A allele had a high significant association with sustained response, low fibrosis stages and relatively better liver activity grade (95% confidence: 3.347 - 15.036, P = 0.0001).
SNPs within the CCR5 gene should be considered as an important factor used in combination with other host gene SNPs when developing a mathematical model for anticipating response to HCV therapy.
PMCID: PMC3877652  PMID: 24403912
Hepatitis C; Chemokines; Interferons; Host-Derived Cellular Factors
6.  Antisense oligonucleotide inhibition of hepatitis C virus genotype 4 replication in HepG2 cells 
Hepatitis C (HCV) viral infection is a serious medical problem in Egypt and it has a devastating impact on the Egyptian economy. It is estimated that over 15% of Egyptians are infected by the virus and thus finding a cure for this disease is of utmost importance. Current therapies for hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 4 with interferon/ribavirin have not been successful and thus the development of alternative therapy for this genotype is disparately needed.
Although previous studies utilizing viral subgenomic or full cDNA fragments linked to reporter genes transfected into adhered cells or in a cell free system showed promise, demonstration of efficient viral replication was lacking. Thus, we utilized HepG2 cells infected with native HCV RNA genomes in a replication competent system and used antisense phosphorothioate Oligonucleotides (S-ODN) against stem loop IIId and the AUG translation start site of the viral polyprotein precursor to monitor viral replication. We were able to show complete arrest of intracellular replication of HCV-4 at 1 uM S-ODN, thus providing a proof of concept for the potential antiviral activity of S-ODN on native genomic replication of HCV genotype 4.
We have successfully demonstrated that by using two S-ODNs [(S-ODN1 (nt 326–348) and S-ODN-2 (nt 264–282)], we were able to completely inhibit viral replication in culture, thus confirming earlier reports on subgenomic constructs and suggesting a potential therapeutic value in HCV type 4.
PMCID: PMC1524817  PMID: 16803625
7.  Soluble egg antigen of Schistosoma Haematobium induces HCV replication in PBMC from patients with chronic HCV infection 
This study was conducted to examine, in vitro , the effect of soluble egg antigen (SEA) of S. haematobium on intracellular HCV RNA load in peripheral mononuclear cells (PBMC) as well as on cell proliferation in patients with chronic HCV infection.
PBMC from 26 patients with chronic HCV infection were cultured for 72 hours in presence and absence of 50 μg SEA/ml medium. Intracellular HCV RNA quantification of plus and minus strands was assessed before and after stimulation. PBMC from five healthy subjects were cultured for 7 days, flow cytometric analysis of DNA content was used to assess the mitogenic effect of SEA on PBMC proliferation compared to phytoheamaglutinine (PHA).
Quantification of the intracellular viral load showed increased copy number/cell of both or either viral strands after induction with SEA in 18 of 26 patients (69.2%) thus indicating stimulation of viral replication. Flow cytometric analysis showed that mean ± S.D. of percent values of cell proliferation was induced from 3.2 ± 1.5% in un-stimulated cells to 16.7 ± 2.5 % and 16.84 ± 1.7 % in cells stimulated with PHA and SEA respectively.
the present study supports earlier reports on SEA proliferative activity on PBMC and provides a strong evidence that the higher morbidity observed in patients co-infected with schistosomiasis and HCV is related, at least in part, to direct stimulation of viral replication by SEA.
PMCID: PMC1550722  PMID: 16756654

Results 1-7 (7)