Background. Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I and II genotype is associated with clearance of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, but little is known regarding its relation with HCV viral load or risk of liver disease in patients with persistent HCV infection.
Methods. High-resolution HLA class I and II genotyping was conducted in a prospective cohort of 519 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–seropositive and 100 HIV-seronegative women with persistent HCV infection. The end points were baseline HCV viral load and 2 noninvasive indexes of liver disease, fibrosis-4 (FIB-4), and the aspartate aminotransferase to platelet ratio index (APRI), measured at baseline and prospectively.
Results. DQB1*0301 was associated with low baseline HCV load (β = −.4; 95% confidence interval [CI], −.6 to −.3; P < .00001), as well as with low odds of FIB-4–defined (odds ratio [OR], .5; 95% CI, .2–.9; P = .02) and APRI-defined liver fibrosis (OR, .5; 95% CI, .3–1.0; P = .06) at baseline and/or during follow-up. Most additional associations with HCV viral load also involved HLA class II alleles. Additional associations with FIB-4 and APRI primarily involved class I alleles, for example, the relation of B*1503 with APRI-defined fibrosis had an OR of 2.0 (95% CI, 1.0–3.7; P = .04).
Conclusions. HLA genotype may influence HCV viral load and risk of liver disease, including DQB1*0301, which was associated with HCV clearance in prior studies.