Patients with chronic hepatitis C (HCV) infection have high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. Genome-wide association study data has showed that several genetic variants within vitamin D cascade affect vitamin D function. This study aimed to determine whether genetic polymorphisms of genes in the vitamin D pathway are associated with treatment responses to pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN)-based therapy in patients with chronic HCV infection.
The study included 623 Thai patients from 2 university hospitals diagnosed with chronic HCV infection who were treated with a PEG-IFN and ribavirin. Patients were genotyped for functional variants on vitamin D synthetic pathway including GC (rs4588, rs7041, rs22020, rs2282679), CYP2R1 (rs2060793, rs12794714), CYP27B1 (rs10877012), and DHCR7 (rs12785878). Pre-treatment predictors of sustained virologic response (SVR) at 24 weeks following discontinuation of therapy were identified using a logistic regression analysis.
SVR was achieved by 60.5% of patients (52.9% with HCV genotype 1; 66.7% with HCV non-genotype 1). In 44.6% of HCV genotype 1-infected patients, only the variant rs12785878 in the DHCR7 locus was significantly associated with an SVR. HCV genotype 1 patients who had DHCR7 rs12785878 GT/TT had a higher rate of SVR than those with the GG allele (59.7% vs. 43.4%, P = 0.03), but in HCV non-genotype 1-infected patients, the SVR rate did not differ between the two groups (63.3% and 59.1% for GT/TT and GG allele, P = 0.54). By multivariate analysis, liver fibrosis stage 0-1 (OR = 5.00; 95% CI, 2.02-12.37; P < 0.001), and DHCR7 rs12785878 GT/TT allele (OR = 2.69; 95% CI, 1.03-7.05; P = 0.04) were independent pre-treatment predictors of SVR following PEG-IFN-based therapy in HCV genotype 1 patients. Baseline HCV RNA < 400,000 IU/ml (OR = 1.96; 95% CI, 1.13-3.39; P = 0.02) was the only independent predictor of SVR in HCV non-genotype 1 patients. The polymorphisms of GC, CYP2R1 and CYP27B1 were not associated with treatment outcome even in genotype 1 or non-genotype 1 HCV infection.
The DHCR7 polymorphism may be a pre-treatment predictive marker for response to PEG-IFN-based therapy in chronic HCV genotype 1 infection.