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1.  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
2.  IL28B polymorphism and cytomegalovirus predict response to treatment in Egyptian HCV type 4 patients 
AIM: To test whether the status of positive cytomegalovirus (CMV) DNA detection adds to the predictive value of IL28B and to further categorize C/T allele carriers.
METHODS: This study included 166 chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients who received combined interferon and ribavirin therapy for 48 wk, 84 spontaneous hepatitis C virus (HCV) resolvers who were positive for IgG anti-HCV antibody and negative for HCV RNA, and 100 healthy subjects who were negative for both HCV antibodies and RNA as controls. Genomic DNA from peripheral blood was used for IL28B rs.12979860 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and CMV DNA detection. A 139 bp fragment containing IL28B SNP was amplified in all subjects by polymerase chain reaction using a specifically designed primer. Then the IL28B rs.12979860 SNP was detected by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) genotyping. The presence of CMV DNA was tested by amplification of the gB1 gene using nested polymerase chain reaction. The role of CMV and IL28B rs.12979860 SNP genotypes in determining the response rate to combined interferon therapy and clinical status of patients were statistically analyzed.
RESULTS: Current data showed that 67% of patients carrying the IL28B 12979860 C/C allele had a sustained viral response (SVR) while the genotypes C/T and TT were associated with lower SVR rates, 50% and 48%, respectively. SVR rates for the C/C allele were lower than other HCV genotypes and/or other populations. Genotype CC was associated with the response to interferon (P = 0.025). Genotype C/C was reduced from 48% in controls to 14% in CHC patients suggesting its protective role against progression to chronicity. The majority of spontaneously cleared subjects (86%) were C/C, confirming its protective role. The C/T allele was present in 71% of CHC patients compared with 38% of controls, so the use of IL28B SNP genotyping only in these patients may be of little value as a predictor of response. CMV reactivation occurred in 40% of CHC patients. Co-infection with CMV seriously diminished the response to interferon (IFN) therapy, with SVR rates in C/C genotypes 87.5% in CMV-negative patients and 12.5% in CMV-positive patients (P < 0.0001). SVR rates among C/T carriers were reduced to < 50% in patients with positive CMV DNA while the non-response rate doubled. These data indicate that a supplemental assay for CMV viremia adds to the prognostic value of IL28B genotyping.
CONCLUSION: The results suggest that both genetic (i.e., spontaneous) and therapeutic (IFN-based therapy) arms are complementary in the battle against HCV. CMV DNA testing may be of value to better predict the response to IFN, particularly in IL28B C/T carriers.
PMCID: PMC3547570  PMID: 23345953
Hepatitis C; Interleukin 28B; Genetic polymorphisms; Human cytomegalovirus; Spontaneous clearance
3.  Association of IL28B SNP With Progression of Egyptian HCV Genotype 4 Patients to End Stage Liver Disease 
Hepatitis Monthly  2012;12(4):271-277.
IL28B single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) play important roles in the management of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections and are strongly associated with spontaneous and treatment-induced HCV clearance.
In the present study, the association between IL28B variants and the progression of HCV infection in Egyptian patients infected with type 4a virus will be examined.
Patients and Methods
Frequencies of the protective genotype C/C of SNP, rs12979860 were determined in healthy subjects, spontaneous resolvers, and chronic HCV type 4 patients with low F scores and in patients with end stage liver disease (ESLD). This study included a total of 404 subjects. Patients infected with HCV type 4a (n = 304) were divided into; chronic hepatitis C (CHC) with low F scores (CHC, n = 110), end stage liver disease (n = 110), liver cirrhosis (LC) (n = 35) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients (n = 75), spontaneous resolvers of HCV infection (n = 84) were also included. A healthy group representing the Egyptian population (n = 100) was also included in the genotyping of IL28B. The later was typed via a polymerase chain reaction based restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) assay analysis on purified genomic DNA extracted from all individuals.
A significant increase (P < 0.0005) was observed in frequencies of IL-28B rs12979860 C/C genotypes in the healthy population, than in the CHC, LC and HCC groups (C/C = 48%, 13%, 0%.and 0% respectively). On the other hand the C/C genotype was significantly higher (P < 0.0005) in spontaneous resolvers than in healthy subjects. A comparable significant increase in the frequency of C/T allele accompanied by mild elevation of T/T allele frequency, were detected along the progression towards ESLD.
Genotype C/C is associated with viral clearance during acute infection. The sharp decline in the C/C genotype from healthy to CHC subjects and the total absence of the C/C genotype in ESLD suggests a central role of this genotype against HCV disease progression.
PMCID: PMC3360937  PMID: 22690235
Hepatitis C; Interleukin 28B; Polymorphism, Genetic; Liver Cirrhosis; Carcinoma, Hepatocellular
4.  Neutralizing activities of caprine antibodies towards conserved regions of the HCV envelope glycoprotein E2 
Virology Journal  2011;8:391.
Anti HCV vaccine is not currently available and the present antiviral therapies fail to cure approximately half of the treated HCV patients. This study was designed to assess the immunogenic properties of genetically conserved peptides derived from the C-terminal region of HVR-1 and test their neutralizing activities in a step towards developing therapeutic and/or prophylactic immunogens against HCV infection. Antibodies were generated by vaccination of goats with synthetic peptides derived from HCV E2. Viral neutralizing capacity of the generated anti E2 antibodies was tested using in vitro assays. Goats immunized with E2 synthetic peptides termed p412 [a.a 412-419], p430 [a.a 430-447] and p517 [a.a 517-531] generated high titers of antibody responses 2 to 4.5 fold higher than comparable titers of antibodies to the same epitopes in chronic HCV patients. In post infection experiments of native HCV into cultured Huh7.5 cells anti p412 and anti p 517 were proven to be neutralizing to HCV genotype 4a from patients' sera (87.5% and 75% respectively). On the contrary anti p430 exhibited weak viral neutralization capacity on the same samples (31.25%). Furthermore Ab mixes containing anti p430 exhibited reduced viral neutralization properties. From these experiments one could predict that neutralization by Abs towards different E2-epitopes varies considerably and success in the enrichment of neutralization epitope-specific antibodies may be accompanied by favorable results in combating HCV infection. Also, E2 conserved peptides p517 and p412 represent potential components of a candidate peptide vaccine against HCV infection.
PMCID: PMC3179750  PMID: 21819575
Hepatitis C virus (HCV); anti E2 antibodies; neutralizing antibodies; In vitro culture model for HCV; candidate peptide vaccine for HCV
5.  Assessment of human cytomegalovirus co-infection in Egyptian chronic HCV patients 
Virology Journal  2011;8:343.
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is the most common cause of severe morbidity and mortality in immune- compromised individuals. This study was conducted to determine the incidence of HCMV infection in HCV patients who either spontaneously cleared the virus or progressed to chronic HCV infection. The study included a total of eighty four cases (48 females and 36 males) that were referred to blood banks for blood donation with an age range of 18-64 years (mean age 37.62 ± 10.03 years). Hepatitis C virus RNA and HCMV DNA were detected in sera by RT-nested PCR and nested PCR respectively in all subjects. Immunoglobulin G levels for HCV and HCMV were determined. Besides, IgM antibodies for HCMV infection were also determined in subjects' sera. Fifty three out of 84 cases (63%) were positive for HCV-RNA while 31 (37%) cases had negative HCV RNA. Forty six (87%) and 13 (25%) cases out of 53 HCV RNA positive patients were positive for HCMV IgG and IgM antibodies respectively. While 20 of 53 cases (38%) had detectable HCMV DNA. To examine the role of HCMV infection in HCV spontaneous resolution, two groups of HCV patients, group 1) chronic HCV infection (positive HCV RNA and positive IgG antibodies) vs group 2) spontaneous resolution (negative HCV RNA and positive IgG antibodies) were compared. The percentages of positive CMV IgG and IgM results is higher in chronic HCV patient than those in spontaneously cleared HCV patients and the difference is highly statistically significant (P value < 0.001). Also, there is a general trend towards elevated levels of CMV IgG antibodies in HCV chronic patients than those in spontaneously cleared HCV patients (P value < 0.02). HCMV DNA detection in group 1 was more than twice the value observed in group 2 (38% vs 14.3%, P value < 0.001). Moreover, levels of liver enzymes were significantly higher in HCV RNA positive cases co-infected with HCMV DNA than HCMV negative cases (P value < 0.001). The results indicate the role of HCMV in the liver pathogenesis. We conclude that chronic HCV patients co-infected with HCMV infection can be regarded as high risk groups for liver disease progression where they should be monitored for the long term outcome of the disease.
PMCID: PMC3145597  PMID: 21740595
Hepatitis C virus; Human Cytomegalovirus DNA; Co-infection
6.  Conserved peptides within the E2 region of Hepatitis C virus induce humoral and cellular responses in goats 
Virology Journal  2009;6:66.
The reason(s) why human antibodies raised against hepatitis C virus (HCV) E2 epitopes do not offer protection against multiple viral infections may be related to either genetic variations among viral strains particularly within the hypervariable region-1 (HVR-1), low titers of anti E2 antibodies or interference of non neutralizing antibodies with the function of neutralizing antibodies. This study was designed to assess the immunogenic properties of genetically conserved peptides derived from the C-terminal region of HVR-1 as potential therapeutic and/or prophylactic vaccines against HCV infection. Goats immunized with E2-conserved synthetic peptides termed p36 (a.a 430–446), p37(a.a 517–531) and p38 (a.a 412–419) generated high titers of anti-p36, anti-p37 and anti-P38 antibody responses of which only anti- p37 and anti- p38 were neutralizing to HCV particles in sera from patients infected predominantly with genotype 4a. On the other hand anti-p36 exhibited weak viral neutralization capacity on the same samples. Animals super-immunized with single epitopes generated 2 to 4.5 fold higher titers than similar antibodies produced in chronic HCV patients. Also the studied peptides elicited approximately 3 fold increase in cell proliferation of specific antibody-secreting peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from immunized goats. These results indicate that, besides E1 derived peptide p35 (a.a 315–323) described previously by this laboratory, E2 conserved peptides p37 and p38 represent essential components of a candidate peptide vaccine against HCV infection.
PMCID: PMC2694788  PMID: 19473491
7.  Circulating viral core and E1 antigen levels as supplemental markers for HCV Chronic hepatitis 
Virology Journal  2006;3:67.
The performance of polyclonal monospecific rabbit anti-sera raised against synthetic peptides derived from conserved HCV sequences of genotype 4 was evaluated for efficient detection of viral core and E1 antigens in circulating immune complexes (ICs) precipitated from 65 serum samples of HCV patients. The infection was established in those patients by the presence of HCV RNA in their sera. A novel enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was developed for the detection of HCV core and E1 antigen in serum samples. Western blot analyses were used to demonstrate the presence of the core and E1 target antigen in serum samples. The mean OD readings of both core and E1 antigens were significantly higher (P < 0.05) among the viremic patients when compared to controls. Also a significant positive correlation (P < 0.05, r = 0.98) between the values of both core and E1 was recorded. Western blot analysis based on monospecific antibodies against core and E1 recognized the 38-kDa and 88 -kDa bands respectively in the sera of all infected patients. No specific reaction was observed with the sera from uninfected individuals. Interestingly the results of core and E1 antigen levels displayed no positive correlation with the HCV copy number as measured by bDNA. Liver enzymes (ALT and AST) showed a moderate positive correlation (r = 0.44 and 0.47 respectively) with the viral core antigens level. The same trend holds true for E1 (r = 0.43 and 0.64 for ALT and AST respectively). HCV load in infected patients revealed extremely poor correlation with serum ALT and AST levels (r = 0.022 and 0.002 respectively). In conclusion we present a new combination of serological tools correlating with liver enzyme levels that could be utilized as supplemental tests to viral load testing. Also, a sensitive and specific immunoassay was developed for the detection of HCV core and E1 in human serum. This test can be applied for laboratory diagnosis of HCV infection.
PMCID: PMC1586018  PMID: 16948845
8.  HepG2 cells support viral replication and gene expression of hepatitis C virus genotype 4 in vitro 
AIM: To establish a cell culture system with long-term replication of hepatitis C virus (HCV) genome and expression of viral antigens in vitro.
METHODS: HepG2 cell line was tested for its susceptibility to HCV by incubation with a serum from a patient with chronic hepatitis C. Cells and supernatant were harvested at various time points during the culture. Culture supernatant was tested for its ability to infect naïve cells. The presence of minus (antisense) RNA strand, and the detection of core and E1 antigens in cells were examined by RT-PCR and immunological techniques (flow cytometry and Western blot) respectively.
RESULTS: The intracellular HCV RNA was first detected on d 3 after infection and then could be consistently detected in both cells and supernatant over a period of at least three months. The fresh cells could be infected with supernatant from cultured infected cells. Flow cytometric analysis showed surface and intracellular HCV antigen expression using in house made polyclonal antibodies (anti-core, and anti-E1). Western blot analysis showed the expression of a cluster of immunogenic peptides at molecular weights extended between 31 and 45 kDa in an one month old culture of infected cells whereas this cluster was undetectable in uninfected HepG2 cells.
CONCLUSION: HepG2 cell line is not only susceptible to HCV infection but also supports its replication in vitro. Expression of HCV structural proteins can be detected in infected HepG2 cells. These cells are also capable of shedding viral particles into culture media which in turn become infectious to uninfected cells.
PMCID: PMC4087617  PMID: 16937465
Hepatitis C virus; In vitro propagation; Genomic replication; Gene expression; HepG2 cells
9.  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
10.  Antibody to E1 peptide of hepatitis C virus genotype 4 inhibits virus binding and entry to HepG2 cells in vitro 
AIM: To analyze the neutralizing activity of antibodies against E1 region of hepatitis C virus (HCV). Specific polyclonal antibody was raised via immunization of New Zealand rabbits with a synthetic peptide that had been derived from the E1 region of HCV and was shown to be highly conserved among HCV published genotypes.
METHODS: Hyper-immune HCV E1 antibodies were incubated over night at 4 °C with serum samples positive for HCV RNA, with viral loads ranging from 615 to 3.2 million IU/ mL. Treated sera were incubated with HepG2 cells for 90 min. Blocking of viral binding and entry into cells by anti E1 antibody were tested by means of RT-PCR and flow cytometry.
RESULTS: Direct immunostaining using FITC conjugated E1 antibody followed by Flow cytometric analysis showed reduced mean fluorescence intensity in samples pre-incubated with E1 antibody compared with untreated samples. Furthermore, 13 out of 18 positive sera (72%) showed complete inhibition of infectivity as detected by RT-PCR.
CONCLUSION: In house produced E1 antibody, blocks binding and entry of HCV virion infection to target cells suggesting the involvement of this epitope in virus binding and entry. Isolation of these antibodies that block virus attachment to human cells are useful as therapeutic reagents.
PMCID: PMC4087985  PMID: 16688798
Flow cytometry; Hepatitis C virus; E1 envelope; Therapeutic antibodies; Direct immuno-fluorescence; HepG2 cells
11.  Flow cytometric detection of hepatitis C virus antigens in infected peripheral blood leukocytes: Binding and entry 
AIM: We designed two synthetic-core-specific peptides core 1 (C1) and core 2 (C2), and an E1-specific peptide (E1). We produced specific polyclonal antibodies against these peptides and used the antibodies for detection of HCV antigens on surface and within infected peripheral blood leukocytes.
METHODS: Peripheral blood from a healthy individual who tested negative for HCV RNA was incubated with HCV type 4 infected serum for 1 h and 24 h at 37 °C. Cells were stained by direct and indirect immunofluorescence and measured by flow cytometry.
RESULTS: After 1 h of incubation, antibodies against C1, C2, and E1 detected HCV antigens on the surface of 27%, 26% and 73% of monocytes respectively, while 10%, 5% and 9% of lymphocytes were positive with anti-C1, anti-C2 and anti-E1 respectively. Only 1-3% of granulocytes showed positive staining with anti-C1, anti-C2 and anti E1 antibodies. After 24 h of incubation, we found no surface staining with anti-C1, anti-C2 or anti-E1. Direct immunostaining using anti-C2 could not detect intracellular HCV antigens, after 1 h of incubation with the virus, while after 24 h of incubation, 28% of infected cells showed positive staining. Only plus strand RNA was detectable intracellularly as early as 1 h after incubation, and remained detectable throughout 48 h post-infection. Interestingly, minus RNA strand could not be detected after 1 h, but became strongly detectable intracellularly after 24 h post-infection.
CONCLUSION: Monocytes and lymphocytes are the preferred target cells for HCV infection in peripheral blood leukocytes. Our specific anti-core and anti-E1 antibodies are valuable reagents for demonstration of HCV cell cycle. Also, HCV is capable of infecting and replicating in peripheral blood mononuclear cells as confirmed by detection of minus strand HCV RNA as well as intracellular staining of core HCV antigen.
PMCID: PMC4320396  PMID: 16127753
Flow cytometry; Hepatitis C virus; Envelope; Core; Antibodies; Indirect immunofluorescence; Minus and plus RNA strand; Peripheral blood mononuclear cells
12.  Rapid Detection of a Schistosoma mansoni Circulating Antigen Excreted in Urine of Infected Individuals by Using a Monoclonal Antibody 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1999;37(2):354-357.
Schistosoma circulating antigens were used to indicate the infection intensity and to assess cure. An immunoglobulin G2a (IgG2a) mouse monoclonal antibody was used in a fast dot-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA; FDA) for rapid and simple diagnosis of schistosomiasis in the field. Seven hundred Egyptians were parasitologically examined for Schistosoma mansoni and other parasitic infections. A rectal biopsy was done as a “gold standard” for individuals showing no S. mansoni eggs in their feces. Egg counts were obtained by the Kato smear method for only 100 of 152 individuals with eggs in their feces. Specific anti-schistosome IgG antibodies were evaluated in sera by ELISA. Urine samples from the 700 individuals were tested by FDA for detection of the circulating antigen. The assay showed a sensitivity of 93% among 433 infected individuals and a specificity of 89% among 267 noninfected individuals. FDA showed the highest efficiency of antigen detection (91%) compared with the efficiency of antibody detection by ELISA (75%) and stool analysis (60%). In addition, FDA detected infected patients with 20 eggs/g of feces. Also, the sensitivity of FDA ranged from 90 to 94% among samples from patients with different clinical stages of schistosomiasis. All the assay steps can be completed within 30 min at room temperature for 96 urine samples. The monoclonal antibody identified a 74-kDa antigen in different antigenic extracts of S. mansoni and Schistosoma haematobium and in the urine of infected individuals. In addition, a 30-kDa degradation product was identified only in the urine samples. On the basis of these results, FDA should be used as a rapid tool for the sensitive and specific diagnosis of Schistosoma infection.
PMCID: PMC84306  PMID: 9889217

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