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J Viral Hepat. 2008 Aug;15(8):578-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2893.2008.00991.x. Epub 2008 May 4.

Refined analysis of genetic variability parameters in hepatitis C virus and the ability to predict antiviral treatment response.

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  • 1Instituto Cavanilles de Biodiversidad y Biología Evolutiva, Universidad de Valencia, Spain.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects approximately 3% of the world population. The chronicity of hepatitis C seems to depend on the level of genetic variability. We have recently (Torres-Puente et al., J Viral Hepat, 2008; 15: 188) reported genetic variability estimates from a large-scale sequence analysis of 67 patients infected with HCV subtypes 1a (23 patients) and 1b (44 patients) and related them to response, or lack of, to alpha-interferon plus ribavirin treatment.. Two HCV genome regions were analysed in samples prior to antiviral therapy, one compressing the three hypervariable regions of the E2 glycoprotein and another one including the interferon sensitive determining region and the V3 domain of the NS5A protein. Haplotype and nucleotide diversity measures showed a clear tendency to higher genetic variability levels in nonresponder than in responder patients. Here, we have refined the analysis of genetic variability (haplotype and nucleotide diversity, number of haplotypes and mutations) by considering their distribution in each of the biologically meaningful subregions mentioned above, as well as in their surrounding and intervening regions. Variability levels are very heterogeneous among the different subregions, being higher for nonresponder patients. Interestingly, significant differences were detected in the biologically relevant regions, but also in the surrounding regions, suggesting that the level of variability of the whole HCV genome, rather than exclusively that from the hypervariable regions, is the main indicator of the treatment response. Finally, the number of haplotypes and mutations seem to be better discriminators than haplotype and nucleotide diversity, especially in the NS5A region.

© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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