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1.  Role of IL28B Gene Polymorphism and Cell-Mediated Immunity in Spontaneous Resolution of Acute Hepatitis C 
IL28B.rs12979860 CC genotype has been associated with spontaneous clearance of hepatitis C virus (HCV). This prospective study suggests a relationship between CC genotype, HCV-specific T-cell response, and acute disease resolution, thus suggesting a possible important role of cell-mediated immunity in favoring HCV clearance in CC patients.
Background. A single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP; rs12979860) near the IL28B gene has been associated with spontaneous and treatment-induced hepatitis C virus clearance. We investigated predictors of spontaneous disease resolution in a cohort of patients with acute hepatitis C (AHC), analyzing epidemiological, clinical and virological parameters together with IL28B.rs12979860 genotypes and cell-mediated immunity (CMI).
Methods. Fifty-six symptomatic AHC patients were enrolled and followed prospectively. CMI was measured in 31 patients at multiple time points by interferon-γ enzyme-linked immunospot assay and was correlated to the IL28B.rs12979860 SNP.
Results. Eighteen patients had a self-limiting AHC that was associated with female sex (P = .028), older age (P = .018), alanine aminotransferase level >1000 U/L (P = .027), total bilirubin level >7 mg/dL (P = .036), and IL28B.rs12979860 genotype CC (P = .030). In multivariate analysis, only CC genotype was independently associated with self-limiting AHC (odds ratio, 5.3; 95% confidence interval, 1.1–26.5). Patients with the CC genotype with self-limiting AHC had a stronger (P = .02) and broader (P = .013) CMI than patients with the CT genotype with chronically evolving AHC. In patients with chronically evolving disease, CC genotype was associated with a broader CMI compared to CT genotype (P = .028). A negative CMI was more frequently associated with CT genotype among persistently infected patients (P = .043) and with persistent infection among CT patients (P = .033).
Conclusions. Self-limiting AHC was independently associated with CC genotype. The correlation between IL28B.rs12979860 genotypes and CMI is suggestive of a possible important role of CMI in favoring hepatitis C virus clearance in CC patients.
PMCID: PMC3749747  PMID: 23784926
acute hepatitis C; cell-mediated immunity; interleukin-28B; prognostic factors
2.  microRNA levels in paraffin-embedded indolent B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma tissues from patients chronically infected with hepatitis B or C virus 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14(Suppl 5):S6.
Epidemiological evidence links Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) and Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) to B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (B-NHL). These B-NHLs, particularly those associated with HCV, may represent a distinct sub-group with peculiar molecular features, including peculiar expression of microRNAs (miRs).
The aim of the present study was to search for miRs whose level in indolent B-NHL tissues could be associated with HBV or HCV infection.
Fourteen formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissues from HBV+, HCV+ and HBV-/HCV- indolent B-NHL patients were analyzed for levels of 34 selected miRs by quantitative Real-Time PCR. Reactive lymph nodes (RLNs) from HBV-/HCV- patients were included as non-tumor control. Statistical analysis of output data included Pearson and Spearman correlation and Mann-Whitney test and were carried out by the STATA software.
MiR-92a was decreased exclusively in HBV-/HCV- B-NHLs, while miR-30b was increased in HBV+ and HCV+ samples, though only the HCV+ achieved full statistical significance. Analysis of a small subset of B-NHLs belonging to the same histological subtype (Nodal Marginal Zone Lymphoma) highlighted three miRs associated with HCV infection (miR-223, miR-29a and miR-29b) and confirmed decreased level of miR-92a in HBV-/HCV- samples also when considering this restricted B-NHL group.
Although caution is needed due to the limited number of analyzed samples, overall the results suggest that differences at the miR expression level exist between indolent B-NHLs developed in patients with or without HBV or HCV infection. The identification of three further miRs associated with HCV by analyzing histologically homogeneous samples suggests that variations of miR levels possibly associated with HBV or HCV may be obscured by the tissue-specific variability of miR level associated with the different histological subtypes of B-NHL. Thus, the identification of further miRs will require, in addition to an increased sample size, the comparison of B-NHL tissues with the same histological classification.
PMCID: PMC4160900  PMID: 25236768
Lymphoma; Hepatitis B Virus; Hepatitis C Virus; microRNA; FFPE
3.  Polyfunctional Type-1, -2, and -17 CD8+ T Cell Responses to Apoptotic Self-Antigens Correlate with the Chronic Evolution of Hepatitis C Virus Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(6):e1002759.
Caspase-dependent cleavage of antigens associated with apoptotic cells plays a prominent role in the generation of CD8+ T cell responses in various infectious diseases. We found that the emergence of a large population of autoreactive CD8+ T effector cells specific for apoptotic T cell-associated self-epitopes exceeds the antiviral responses in patients with acute hepatitis C virus infection. Importantly, they endow mixed polyfunctional type-1, type-2 and type-17 responses and correlate with the chronic progression of infection. This evolution is related to the selection of autoreactive CD8+ T cells with higher T cell receptor avidity, whereas those with lower avidity undergo prompt contraction in patients who clear infection. These findings demonstrate a previously undescribed strict link between the emergence of high frequencies of mixed autoreactive CD8+ T cells producing a broad array of cytokines (IFN-γ, IL-17, IL-4, IL-2…) and the progression toward chronic disease in a human model of acute infection.
Author Summary
The emergence of a large population of mixed polyfunctional (type-1, -2, -17) CD8+ T cell effector responses specific for apoptotic T cell-associated self-epitopes rather than the dysfunction or altered quality of virus-specific CD8+ T cells is associated with the progression toward chronic disease in the human model of acute HCV infection. The chronic evolution is associated with the selection of autoreactive CD8+ T cells with higher T cell receptor avidity, whereas those with lower avidity undergo prompt contraction, as seen in patients undergoing infection resolution. We suggest that these autoreactive responses are secondary to the viral persistence and can participate to the HCV-related immunopathology. This data has implications for the prognosis and therapy of infections undergoing chronic evolution.
PMCID: PMC3380931  PMID: 22737070
4.  The association of hepatitis B virus infection with B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma – a review 
Epidemiological studies performed over the last decade have demonstrated a positive association between persistent, hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), with HBV-infected patients having a 2-3-fold higher risk to develop NHL than non-infected patients. Moreover, there is evidence that also occult HBV infection (HBsAg-negative, HBV DNA-positive) associates with NHL. An association with HBV infection may exist also for other hematological malignancies, but available evidence is much less persuasive than for NHL. In this review article we will discuss available results on the association between HBsAg-positive HBV infection and NHL, as well as the significance of other serological markers of HBV infection in these subjects. We will also discuss the possible etiopathogenic role of HBV, and propose a multifactorial model for lymphomagenesis. Experimental evidence for multifactorial etiopathogenesis has been obtained in recent years for HBV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and we suggest that a similar model may apply to HBV-associated lymphoma as well. Eventually, we will also address some unresolved questions. Two of these are of particular relevance. First, do HBV-positive NHL patients show regression of their hematologic malignancy upon antiviral therapy? A positive answer would represent a direct demonstration of the necessary etiological role of the virus in the development of NHL, as has been shown previously for HCV-associated lymphomas. Second, if HBV plays a necessary role in lymphomagenesis, then expansion of HBV vaccination is expected to reduce the number of incident NHL cases, even though this effect might become evident only after a long time interval. Studies in those countries which have introduced universal HBV vaccination about two decades ago, like Italy, may soon provide results on this important point.
PMCID: PMC3301438  PMID: 22432084
Hepatitis B virus; occult infection; anti-HBs antibodies; anti-HBe antibodies; anti-HBc antibodies; non-Hodgkin lymphoma; hematologic malignancies; antiviral therapy; multicausal etiology; vaccination
5.  Use of the Minimum Spanning Tree Model for Molecular Epidemiological Investigation of a Nosocomial Outbreak of Hepatitis C Virus Infection 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2004;42(9):4230-4236.
The minimum spanning tree (MST) model was applied to identify the history of transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in an outbreak involving five children attending a pediatric oncology-hematology outpatient ward between 1992 and 2000. We collected blood samples from all children attending since 1992, all household contacts, and one health care worker positive for antibody to HCV (anti-HCV). HCV RNA detection was performed with these samples and with smears of routinely collected bone marrow samples. For all isolates, we performed sequence analysis and phylogenetic tree analysis of hypervariable region 1 of the E2 gene. The MST model was applied to clinical-epidemiological and molecular data. No additional cases were detected. All children, but not the health care worker, showed genotype 3a. On six occasions, all but one child had shared the medication room with another patient who later seroconverted. HCV RNA detection in bone marrow smears revealed, in some cases, a delay of several months in anti-HCV responses. Sequence analysis and phylogenetic tree analysis revealed a high identity among the isolates. The MST model applied to molecular data, together with the clinical-epidemiological data, allowed us to identify the source of the outbreak and the most probable patient-to-patient chain of transmission. The management of central venous catheters was suspected to be the probable route of transmission. In conclusion, the MST model, supported by an exhaustive clinical-epidemiological investigation, appears to be a useful tool in tracing the history of transmission in outbreaks of HCV infection.
PMCID: PMC516344  PMID: 15365016

Results 1-5 (5)