The effect of Hepatitis C virus genetic heterogeneity on clinical features of post-transplantation Hepatitis C is controversial.
Different regions of the Hepatitis C virus genome have been associated with apoptosis, fibrosis, and other pathways leading to liver damage in chronic Hepatitis C.
Differences in immunodominant regions, such as NS3, may influence Hepatitis C virus-specific immune responses and disease outcome.
In a recent study in a liver transplant setting, a positive association between Hepatitis C virus-1b Core region genetic relatedness 5-year post-transplantation and histological severity of recurrent Hepatitis C was noted.
Dr López-Labrador and colleagues compared nucleotide sequences of Hepatitis C virus Core, NS3, and NS5b regions.
The researchers assessed 22 Hepatitis C virus-1b-infected patients 3 years post-transplantation.
A cohort of 22 nontransplanted patients was used as control of natural chronic Hepatitis C virus-1b infection.
|There was a positive relationship between Hep C genetic similarity and fibrosis progression rate|
|Journal of Viral Hepatitis|
Histological evaluation was used to define the rate of fibrosis progression.
Molecular variance analysis did not show significant differences in Hepatitis C virus sequences between transplanted and nontransplanted patients.
The team also found no differences in Hepatitis C sequences between those with fast or slow fibrosis progression.
The researchers obtained the same results when analyzing phylogenetic trees for Core, NS3 and NS5b regions.
A more appropriate clustering method revealed a significant positive relationship between Hepatitis C virus genetic similarity in Core and NS5b regions.
The team also found a positive relationship between Hepatitis C genetic similarity and the yearly rate of fibrosis progression in nontransplanted patients.
This was not observed in transplanted patients.
Dr López-Labrador's team concluded, “The results indicate that some strains of Hepatitis C virus-1b might be more pathogenic in the natural course of chronic infection by this virus subtype.”
“In the liver transplant setting, when the immune response is severely compromised, other mechanisms are probably more important in determining Hepatitis C progression.”