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1.  In Vitro Inhibition of Hepatitis C Virus by Antisense Oligonucleotides in PBMC Compared to Hepatoma Cells 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:196712.
Aim. To assess the efficiency of phosphorothioate antisense oligodeoxynucleotide 1 (S-ODN1) on HCV translation inhibition in PBMC compared to hepatoma cells in vitro for the first time. Materials and Methods. The study included 34 treatment naive HCV patients. IRES domain III and IV sequence variations were tested in 45 clones from 9 HCV patients. PBMC of HCV positive patients were subjected to S-ODN in vitro. Concomitantly HepG2 cells infected by the same patient's serum were also treated with S-ODN1 for 24 and 48 hours. Cellular RNA was tested for HCV plus and minus strands by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Results. Sequence variations were seen in HCV IRES domain III only while domain IV was conserved among all the tested patient's clones. S-ODN1 successfully inhibited HCV translation in HepG2 cells, while in PBMC inhibition was partial. Conclusion. HCV IRES domain IV is more conserved than domain IIId in genotype 4 HCV patients. S-ODN against HCV IRES domain IV was not efficient to inhibit HCV translation in PBMC under the study conditions. Further studies testing other S-ODN targeting other HCV IRES domains in PBMC should be done.
doi:10.1155/2014/196712
PMCID: PMC4058683  PMID: 24991538
2.  A Study of CC-Chemokine Receptor 5 (CCR5) Polymorphism on the Outcome of HCV Therapy in Egyptian Patients 
Hepatitis Monthly  2013;13(12):e13721.
Background:
Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a globally serious public health issue.
Objectives:
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.
Results:
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).
Conclusions:
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.
doi:10.5812/hepatmon.13721
PMCID: PMC3877652  PMID: 24403912
Hepatitis C; Chemokines; Interferons; Host-Derived Cellular Factors
3.  Impact of IL12B Gene rs 3212227 Polymorphism on Fibrosis, Liver Inflammation, and Response to Treatment in Genotype 4 Egyptian Hepatitis C Patients 
Disease markers  2013;35(5):431-437.
Introduction. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection affects almost 3% of the world's population with the highest prevalence in Egypt (15%). The standard therapy; pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) and ribavirin, is effective in only 60% of Egyptian patients; moreover it is costly, prolonged, and has severe side effects, so prediction of response is essential to reduce burden of unfavorable treatment. Several viral and host factors have been proved to affect response to the treatment PEG-IFN and ribavirin; the strongest of them is polymorphisms near IL28B; nonetheless, nonresponse in patients with favorable IL28B is still unexplained, which implies the importance of studying other immunological factors that may correlate with response. Interleukin 12 (IL-12) is one of the most important proinflammatory cytokine presented with the initiation of immune response, determining Th1 and Th2 differentiation. A functional single nucleotide polymorphism (A/C) at the 3′ untranslated region (3′UTR) at position 1188 (NCBI SNP database no 3212227) was reported to be associated with responding more efficiently to antiviral combination therapy in HCV genotype 1 infected patients. The present study aims to evaluate association between this polymorphism with fibrosis stages, necroinflammation activity, response to the combined therapy, and gender in Egyptian HCV genotype 4. Material and Methods. A total of 133 Egyptian chronic HCV (CHCV) patients were treated with IFN/RBV and were followed up. IL12B 1188 A/C genotyping was performed using polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PRC-RFLP) analysis. Results. A nonsignificant trend for higher sustained virological response (SVR) was observed in patients homozygote for IL12B 1188 A/C SNP CC genotype (69% SVR versus 30.8% NR) only but not in AC and AA genotypes. No association was detected between IL12B 1188 A/C polymorphism and less severe fibrosis or less liver activity. By stratification of response according to gender genotype, a significant difference in response between males and females was seen among AA genotype carriers only due to high number of non responder females. Conclusion. IL12B CC genotype appears to have some influence on SVR achievement but not on severe fibrosis and severe necroinflamation activity. Females carrying A/A genotype of IL12B 1188 A/C SNP achieve less SVR than those carrying AC and CC genotypes.
doi:10.1155/2013/627589
PMCID: PMC3810365  PMID: 24223458
4.  Heterogeneity and New Epitopes of Hepatitis C Virus Genotype 4 
Hepatitis Monthly  2013;13(8):e10521.
Background
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.
Objectives
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.5812/hepatmon.10521
PMCID: PMC3796197  PMID: 24130599
Hepacivirus; Phylogenetic Analysis; Polysaccharides; Epitopes
5.  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.
doi:10.4254/wjh.v5.i3.97
PMCID: PMC3612579  PMID: 23556040
Hepatitis C virus; Interferon therapy; Low molecular mass polypeptide; Host gene; Single nucleotide polymorphism
6.  Prevalence of Occult Hepatitis C Virus in Egyptian Patients with Chronic Lymphoproliferative Disorders 
Background. Occult hepatitis C virus infection (OCI) was identified as a new form of Hepatitis C virus (HCV), characterized by undetectable HCV antibodies and HCV RNA in serum, while HCV RNA is detectable in liver and peripheral blood cells only. Aim. The aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence of OCI in Egyptian patients with lymphoproliferative disorders (LPDs) and to compare its prevalence with that of HCV in those patients. Subjects and Methods. The current study included 100 subjects, 50 of them were newly diagnosed cases having different lymphoproliferative disorders (patients group), and 50 were apparently healthy volunteers (controls group). HCV antibodies were detected by ELISA, HCV RNA was detected in serum and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction(RT-PCR), and HCV genotype was detected by INNO-LiPA. Results. OCI was detected in 20% of patients group, compared to only 4% OCI in controls group. HCV was detected in 26% of patients group with a slightly higher prevalence. There was a male predominance in both HCV and OCI. All HCV positive patients were genotype 4. Conclusion. Our data revealed occurrence of occult HCV infection in Egyptian LPD patients at a prevalence of 20% compared to 26% of HCV.
doi:10.1155/2012/429784
PMCID: PMC3530786  PMID: 23304473
7.  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.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v12.i30.4836
PMCID: PMC4087617  PMID: 16937465
Hepatitis C virus; In vitro propagation; Genomic replication; Gene expression; HepG2 cells
8.  Antisense oligonucleotide inhibition of hepatitis C virus genotype 4 replication in HepG2 cells 
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1475-2867-6-18
PMCID: PMC1524817  PMID: 16803625
9.  Soluble egg antigen of Schistosoma Haematobium induces HCV replication in PBMC from patients with chronic HCV infection 
Background
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.
Methods
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).
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-91
PMCID: PMC1550722  PMID: 16756654
10.  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.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v11.i33.5203
PMCID: PMC4320396  PMID: 16127753
Flow cytometry; Hepatitis C virus; Envelope; Core; Antibodies; Indirect immunofluorescence; Minus and plus RNA strand; Peripheral blood mononuclear cells

Results 1-10 (10)