Interferon (IFN) preactivation, interleukin-28B (IL28B) alleles, and liver fibrosis act as predictors of response
to antiviral therapy against hepatitis C. We aimed to verify if blood IFN concentration, a putative biomarker of interferon
preactivation, might depend on carriage of a given IL28B genotype and/or advanced hepatic fibrosis. The study
population included 187 hepatitis C patients (75 of whom were HIV coinfected), who were genotyped for the rs12979860
polymorphism and staged non-invasively by transient elastography. Blood IFN, measured by an enzyme immunoassay,
was detectable in 68/187 patients (36%). Seventy-three patients (39%) were C/C homozygotes, 25 (13%) were T/T
homozygotes, and 89 (48%) were heterozygotes. The fibrosis stage was F0-F1 in 70 patients (37%), F2-F3 in 54 patients
(29%), and F4 in 63 patients (34%). IFN levels were higher among patients with HIV coinfection (p=0.044) and patients
with better renal function (p=0.041), without association with the IL28B genotype or the hepatitis C stage. From the
multivariate analysis, the only independent predictor of higher level of IFN was the age of patients (p=0.019), whereas
independent predictors of a fibrosis stage ≥F2 were age (p=0.007), belonging to the HIV/HCV group (p=0.048) and
current alcohol consumption (p=0.008). In conclusion, a sizable proportion of HCV carriers have detectable IFN levels
that do not indicate a greater severity of disease or display any relationships to specific rs12979860 variants.
Fibroscan, HIV/HCV, IL28B genotype, IFN-alfa, liver fibrosis, Polymorphism, Disease, patients, homozygotes, univariate
Dipartimento di Medicina Translazionale, Universita del Piemonte Orientale “A.Avogadro”, Novara, Italy.