Li JH, Lao XQ, Tillmann HL, Rowell J, Patel K, Thompson A, Suchindran S, Muir AJ, Guyton JR, Gardner SD, McHutchison JG and McCarthy JJ. Interferon lambda genotype and low serum LDL cholesterol levels in patients with chronic hepatitis C infection. Hepatology 2010;51(6): 1904-11. PMID: 20235331.
Recently, genetic polymorphisms occurring in the interferon (IFN)-lambda gene region were associated with response to IFN-based treatment of hepatitis C infection. Both infection with the hepatitis C virus and IFN therapy are associated with decreased serum cholesterol and high cholesterol has been associated with increased likelihood to respond to IFN. We sought to determine if the IFN-lambda gene variant was also associated with serum lipid levels in chronic hepatitis C patients. We compared genotypes of the rs12979860 polymorphism, located proximal to the IL28 gene, with serum lipid and apolipoprotein levels in 746 subjects with chronic hepatitis C virus infection, not currently undergoing treatment, using multivariable analysis of variance. Levels of total cholesterol (P = 6.0 x 10(-4)), apolipoprotein B (P = 1.3 x 10(-6)) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (P = 8.9 x 10(-10)) were significantly higher in subjects carrying the rs12979860 CC responder genotype compared with those with the CT or TT genotype. Levels of triglycerides (P = 0.03), apolipoprotein A-I (P = 0.06), and apolipoprotein E (P = 0.01) were slightly lower in the rs12979860 CC genotype group, whereas levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (P = 0.78) and apolipoprotein C-III (P = 0.74) did not vary by rs12979860 genotype.
Our results suggest that low levels of LDL cholesterol in chronic hepatitis C patients may be a marker of host endogenous IFN response to hepatitis C and that subjects with the rs12979860 CC responder genotype may have a lower endogenous IFN response to the virus.