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J Clin Virol. 2013 Jul;57(3):274-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2013.03.002. Epub 2013 Mar 23.

Proteomic characterization of hepatitis C eradication: enzyme switch in the healing liver.

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  • 1Infectious Diseases Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Sassari, Italy.


Lipid pathway impairment, decrease in the antioxidant pool and downregulation in amino-acid metabolism are just some of the metabolic variations attributed to chronic HCV infection. All of them have been studied separately, mainly in animal models. Thanks to proteomic analysis we managed to describe (for the fist time to the best of our knowledge), in vivo and in humans, the metabolic alterations caused by HCV, and the recovery of the same alterations during HCV treatment. We performed proteomic analysis on liver specimens of a 28-year-old woman affected by hepatitis C genotype 1a, alcoholism and diabetes mellitus type 1, before and after antiviral treatment with pegylated interferon alpha 2b and ribavirin. The subject, thanks to a patient-tailored therapy, reached Sustained Virological Response. Throughout the treatment period the patient was monitored with subsequent biochemical, clinical and psychological examinations. The data obtained by the patient's close monitoring suggest a direct interaction between insulin resistance and an active HCV genotype 1 infection, with a leading role played by the infection, and not by insulin resistance, as demonstrated by the sharp fall of the insulin units needed per day during treatment. The proteomic analysis showed that after therapy, a downregulation of enzymes involved in amino acid metabolism, glycolysis/gluconeogenesis and alcohol catabolism takes place, the latter probably due to cessation of alcohol abuse. On the contrary, the metabolic pathways linked to metabolism of the reactive oxygen species were upregulated after therapy. Finally, a significant alteration in the pathway regulated by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARA), a major regulator of lipid metabolism in the liver, was reported. These "real time" data confirm in vivo, in humans, that during HCV infection, the pathways related to fatty acids, glucose metabolism and free radical scavenging are inhibited. The same enzyme deficit is completely recovered after HCV eradication.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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