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1.  IP-10 Can Be Measured in Dried Plasma Spots in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C Infection 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45181.
The chemokine IP-10 (CXCL10) is a candidate marker for hepatitis C virus (HCV) fibrosis monitoring. The aim of this proof-of-concept study is to assess if IP-10 measurements from dried plasma spots (DPS) are accurate in HCV-infected patients with either minimal or significant fibrosis. We measured IP-10 levels in plasma and DPS of 21 HCV-infected patients with cirrhosis and 19 patients with no/little fibrosis (determined with FibroScan). Cirrhotic patients had significantly higher levels of IP-10 compared to patients with minimal fibrosis. DPS and plasma measurements of IP-10 are comparable and the correlation was excellent (r2 = 0.97, p<0.0001). The DPS based method for IP-10 detection performs well in HCV-infected patients with either minimal or significant fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3443225  PMID: 23024806
2.  Influence of Hepatitis C Virus and IL28B Genotypes on Liver Stiffness 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115882.
Liver fibrosis has been associated with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype and genetic variation near the interleukin 28B (IL28B) gene, but the relative contribution is unknown. We aimed to investigate the relation between HCV genotypes, IL28B and development of liver stiffness.
Patients and Methods
This cross-sectional study consists of 369 patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC). Liver stiffness was evaluated using transient elastograhy (TE). Factors associated with development of liver fibrosis were identified by logistic regression analysis.
We identified 369 patients with CHC. 235 were male, 297 Caucasians, and 223 had been exposed to HCV through intravenous drug use. The overall median TE value was 7.4 kPa (interquartile range (IQR) 5.7–12.1). HCV replication was enhanced in patients carrying the IL28B CC genotype compared to TT and TC (5.8 vs. 5.4 log10 IU/mL, p = 0.03). Patients infected with HCV genotype 3 had significantly higher TE values (8.2 kPa; IQR, 5.9–14.5) compared to genotype 1 (6.9 kPa; IQR, 5.4–10.9) and 2 (6.7 kPa; IQR, 4.9–8.8) (p = 0.02). Within patients with genotype 3, IL28B CC genotype had the highest TE values (p = 0.04). However, in multivariate logistic regression, using various cut-off values for fibrosis and cirrhosis, only increasing age (odds ratio (OR) 1.09 (95% confidence interval (CI), 1.05–1.14 per year increment)), ALT (OR 1.01 (95% CI, 1.002–1.011), per unit increment) and HCV genotype 3 compared to genotype 1 (OR 2.40 (95% CI, 1.19–4.81), were consistently associated with cirrhosis (TE>17.1 kPa).
Age, ALT and infection with HCV genotype 3 were associated with cirrhosis assessed by TE. However, IL28B genotype was not an independent predictor of fibrosis in our study.
PMCID: PMC4278774  PMID: 25545640
3.  Socioeconomic status in HCV infected patients – risk and prognosis 
Clinical Epidemiology  2013;5:163-172.
Background and aims
It is unknown whether socioeconomic status (SES) is a risk factor for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection or a prognostic factor following infection.
From Danish nationwide registries, we obtained information on three markers of SES: employment, income, and education. In a case control design, we examined HCV infected patients and controls; conditional logistic regression was employed to obtain odds ratios (ORs) for HCV infection for each of the three SES markers, adjusting for the other two SES markers, comorbidity, and substance abuse. In a cohort design, we used Cox regression analysis to compute mortality rate ratios (MRRs) for each of the three SES markers, adjusting for the other two SES markers, comorbidity level, age, substance abuse, and gender.
When compared to employed persons, ORs for HCV infection were 2.71 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.24–3.26) for disability pensioners and 2.24 (95% CI: 1.83–2.72) for the unemployed. When compared to persons with a high income, ORs were 1.64 (95% CI: 1.34–2.01) for low income persons and 1.19 (95% CI: 1.02–1.40) for medium income persons. The OR was 1.35 (95% CI: 1.20–1.52) for low education (no more than basic schooling). When compared to employed patients, MRRs were 1.71 (95% CI: 1.22–2.40) for unemployed patients and 2.24 (95% CI: 1.63–3.08) for disability pensioners. When compared to high income patients, MRRs were 1.47 (95% CI: 1.05–2.05) for medium income patients and 1.64 (95% CI: 1.13–2.34) for low income patients. Educational status was not associated with mortality.
Low SES was associated with an increased risk of HCV infection and with poor prognosis in HCV infected patients.
PMCID: PMC3678712  PMID: 23766659
survival; socioeconomic status; risk factor; prognosis
4.  Neutralizing Antibodies in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C, Genotype 1, against a Panel of Genotype 1 Culture Viruses: Lack of Correlation to Treatment Outcome 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e62674.
The correlation of neutralizing antibodies to treatment outcome in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has not been established. The aim of this study was to determine whether neutralizing antibodies could be used as an outcome predictor in patients with chronic HCV, genotype 1, infection treated with pegylated interferon-α and ribavirin. Thirty-nine patients with chronic hepatitis C, genotype 1a or 1b, with either sustained virologic response (n = 23) or non-sustained virologic response (n = 16) were enrolled. Samples taken prior to treatment were tested for their ability to neutralize 6 different HCV genotype 1 cell culture recombinants (1a: H77/JFH1, TN/JFH1, DH6/JFH1; 1b: J4/JFH1, DH1/JFH1, DH5/JFH1). The results were expressed as the highest dilution yielding 50% neutralization (NAb50-titer). We observed no genotype or subtype specific differences in NAb50-titers between patients with chronic HCV infection with and without sustained virologic response when tested against any of the included culture viruses. However, NAb50-titers varied significantly with a mean reciprocal NAb50-titer of 800 (range: 100–6400) against DH6/JFH1 compared to a mean NAb50-titer of 50 (range: <50–400) against all other included isolates. Subsequent studies demonstrated that the efficient neutralization of DH6/JFH1 could be linked to engineered adaptive mutations in the envelope-2 protein. In analysis of envelope 1 and 2 sequences of HCV, recovered from a subset of patients, we observed no apparent link between relatedness of patient sequences with culture viruses used and the corresponding neutralization results. In conclusion, pre-treatment levels of neutralizing antibodies against HCV genotype 1 isolates could not predict treatment outcome in patients with chronic HCV infection. High neutralization susceptibility of DH6/JFH1 could be correlated with adaptive envelope mutations previously highlighted as important for neutralization. Our study emphasizes the importance of using multiple culture viruses for neutralization studies and contributes to the current knowledge about neutralizing epitopes, important for future therapeutic- and vaccine-studies.
PMCID: PMC3646876  PMID: 23667506
5.  PNPLA 3 I148M genetic variant associates with insulin resistance and baseline viral load in HCV genotype 2 but not in genotype 3 infection 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:82.
Hepatic steatosis in HCV patients has been postulated as a risk factor associated with a higher frequency of fibrosis and cirrhosis. A single genetic variant, PNPLA3 I148M, has been widely associated with increased hepatic steatosis. Previous studies of the PNPLA3 I148M sequence variant in HCV infected individuals have reported an association between this variant and prevalence of steatosis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. To evaluate the impact of PNPLA3 I148M variant on metabolic traits and treatment response in HCV genotype 2 and 3 infected patients.
Three hundred and eighty-two treatment naïve HCV genotype 2 or 3 infected patients were included in a phase III, open label, randomized, multicenter, investigator-initiated trial (the NORDynamIC study), in which pretreatment liver biopsies were mandatory. PNPLA3I148M genotyping was performed in a total of 359 Caucasian patients.
In HCV genotype 2 infected patients carrying the PNPLA3 148M allele, there was significantly increased insulin resistance (P = 0.023) and lower viral load (P = 0.005) at baseline as well as the first seven days of antiviral treatment. These results were not observed in HCV genotype 3 infected patients.
Our results suggest a possible association between the PNPLA3 148M allele and insulin resistance as well as baseline viral load in HCV genotype 2, but not in genotype 3.
PMCID: PMC3495049  PMID: 22978414
Hepatitis C; PNPLA 3; Insulin resistance; Viral load
6.  Hepatitis C prevalence in Denmark -an estimate based on multiple national registers 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:178.
A national survey for chronic hepatitis C has not been performed in Denmark and the prevalence is unknown. Our aim was to estimate the prevalence of chronic hepatitis C from public registers and the proportion of these patients who received specialized healthcare.
Patients with a diagnosis of chronic hepatitis C were identified from four national registers: a laboratory register, the Hospital Discharge Register, a clinical database of chronic viral hepatitis and the Register of Communicable Diseases. The total population diagnosed with hepatitis C was estimated by capture-recapture analysis. The population with undiagnosed hepatitis C was derived from the national register of drug users by comparing diagnosed and tested persons.
A total of 6,935 patients diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C were identified in the four registers and the estimated population diagnosed with the disease was 9,166 persons (95% C.I. interval 8,973 – 9,877), corresponding to 0.21% (95% CI 0.21%-0.23%) of the Danish population over 15years of age. The prevalence was highest among persons 40–49years old (0.39%) and males (0.28%). It was estimated that 40% of the diagnosed patients lived in the capital region, and 33.5% had attended specialised healthcare. It was estimated that 46% of hepatitis C patients had not been diagnosed and the total population with chronic hepatitis C in Denmark was 16,888 (95% C.I. 16,474-18,287), corresponding to 0.38% (95% CI 0.37-0.42) of the population over 15years of age.
The estimated prevalence of chronic hepatitis C in Denmark was 0.38%. Less than half of the patients with chronic hepatitis C in Denmark have been identified and among these patients, one in three has attended specialised care.
PMCID: PMC3447638  PMID: 22866925
7.  Impact of Obesity on the Bioavailability of Peginterferon-α2a and Ribavirin and Treatment Outcome for Chronic Hepatitis C Genotype 2 or 3 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37521.
Background and Aims
Having a body mass index above or equal to 30 kg/m2 in conjunction with chronic hepatitis C virus infection is associated with non-responsiveness to treatment with interferon and ribavirin, but details regarding the mechanisms whereby obesity reduces the efficacy of therapy remain unclear.
This study evaluated impact of obesity on outcome as well as interferon and ribavirin concentrations following standard-of-care fixed dosing with peginterferon-α2a 180 µg once weekly and ribavirin 800 mg daily among 303 HCV genotype 2/3-infected patients enrolled in the per-protocol analysis of a recently completed phase III trial (NORDynamIC).
Patients with BMI ≥30 kg/m2 showed poorer outcome following 24 weeks of therapy (SVR 62% vs. 89% for BMI ≥30 vs. <30; P = 0.006) along with significantly higher steatosis grade (P = 0.002), HOMA-IR (P<0.0001), triglyceride levels (P = 0.0002), and baseline viral load (P = 0.028). Obesity was also significantly associated with lower plasma interferon concentrations on days 3, 7, and 29 (P = 0.02, P = 0.0017, and P<0.0001, respectively) and lower plasma ribavirin concentrations day 29 (P = 0.025), and lower concentration of interferon in turn was associated with a poorer first phase reduction in HCV RNA (P<0.0001). In multivariate analysis, ribavirin concentrations week 12, interferon concentrations day 29, and baseline HCV RNA levels were independent predictors of achieving SVR among patients treated for 24 weeks (n = 140).
Reduced bioavailability of interferon and ribavirin along with higher baseline viral load are dominant risk factors for treatment failure in obese patients with chronic hepatitis C.
PMCID: PMC3360051  PMID: 22655053
8.  Impact of IL28B-Related Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms on Liver Histopathology in Chronic Hepatitis C Genotype 2 and 3 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29370.
Background and Aims
Recently, several genome-wide association studies have revealed that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in proximity to IL28B predict spontaneous clearance of HCV infection as well as outcome following peginterferon and ribavirin therapy among HCV genotype 1 infected patients. The present study aimed to evaluate the impact of IL28B SNP variability on liver histology in the context of a phase III treatment trial (NORDynamIC) for treatment-naïve patients with chronic HCV genotype 2 or 3 infection, where pretreatment liver biopsies were mandatory.
Three hundred and thirty-nine Caucasian patients had samples available for IL28B genotyping (rs12979860) of whom 314 had pretreatment liver biopsies that were evaluated using the Ishak protocol, allowing for detailed grading and staging of liver histopathology.
IL28B CCrs12979860 genotype in HCV genotype 3 infected patients was associated with higher ALT levels (p<0.0001), higher AST to platelet ratio index (APRI; p = 0.001), and higher baseline viral load (p<0.0001) as compared to patients with the CT or TT genotypes. Additionally the CCrs12979860 genotype entailed more pronounced portal inflammation (p = 0.02) and steatosis (p = 0.03). None of these associations were noted among HCV genotype 2 infected patients.
This study shows that the CCrs12979860 SNP is associated with more pronounced liver histopathology in patients chronically infected with HCV genotype 3, which may be secondary to higher viral load. The finding that IL28B variability did not impact on liver pathology or viral load among genotype 2 infected patients implies that IL28B may differentially regulate the course of genotype 2 and 3 infection.
PMCID: PMC3258245  PMID: 22253715
9.  Mortality among Patients with Cleared Hepatitis C Virus Infection Compared to the General Population: A Danish Nationwide Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22476.
The increased mortality in HCV-infected individuals partly stems from viral damage to the liver and partly from risk-taking behaviours. We examined mortality in patients who cleared their HCV-infection, comparing it to that of the general population. We also addressed the question whether prognosis differed according to age, substance abuse (alcohol abuse and injection drug use) and comorbidity.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Patients with cleared HCV-infection were categorized into one of 8 groups according to age (20–39 years or 40–69 years) and patient characteristics (no substance abuse/no comorbidity; substance abuse/no comorbidity; no substance abuse/comorbidity; and substance abuse/comorbidity). For each patient, 4 age- and gender-matched individuals without substance abuse or comorbidity were selected from the general population, comprising a total of 8 comparison cohorts. We analyzed 10-year survival and used stratified Cox Regression analysis to compute mortality rate ratios (MRRs), comparing mortality between the 8 patient groups and the comparison cohorts, adjusting for personal income. Among patients without substance abuse or comorbidity, those aged 40–69 years had the same mortality as the comparison cohort (10-year survival: 95% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 93%–97%), MRR: 1.3 (95% CI: 0.8–2.3)), whereas those aged 20–39 years had higher mortality than the comparison cohort (10-year survival: 93% versus 99%, MRR: 5.7 (95% CI: 2.3–14.0). For both age categories, substance abuse and comorbidity decreased survival and increased MRRs. Patients aged 40–69 years with substance abuse and comorbidity suffered from substantial mortality (MRR: 12.5 (95% CI: 5.1–30.6)).
Mortality in patients aged 40–69 years with cleared HCV-infection is comparable to individuals without HCV, provided they have no substance abuse or comorbidity. Any substance abuse and/or comorbidity not captured in the registries used for our study could explain the increased mortality in patients aged 20–39 years without documented substance abuse or comorbidity.
PMCID: PMC3138785  PMID: 21789259

Results 1-9 (9)