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J Gastroenterol. 2014 Jan;49(1):126-37. doi: 10.1007/s00535-013-0814-1. Epub 2013 Apr 17.

Ex vivo induction of IFN-λ3 by a TLR7 agonist determines response to Peg-IFN/ribavirin therapy in chronic hepatitis C patients.

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  • 1The Research Center for Hepatitis and Immunology, National Center for Global Health and Medicine, 1-7-1 Kohnodai Ichikawa, Chiba, 272-8516, Japan.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Genetic variation around interleukin-28B (IL28B), encoding IFN-λ3, predict non-responders to pegylated interferon-α/ribavirin (Peg-IFN/RBV) therapy in chronic hepatitis C (CHC). However, it remains unclear the expression and the role of IL28B itself. The aim of this study is to develop easy and useful methods for the prediction of treatment outcomes.

METHODS:

The mRNA and protein levels of IFN-λ3 induced by ex vivo stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) or magnetically selected dendritic cells (DCs) with toll-like receptor agonists (TLR3; poly I:C, TLR7; R-837) were measured by the quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and our newly developed chemiluminescence enzyme immunoassays, respectively, and compared with the clinical data.

RESULTS:

We found that BDCA-4(+) plasmacytoid and BDCA-3(+) myeloid DCs were the main producers of IFN-λs when stimulated with R-837 and poly I:C, respectively. Detectable levels of IFN-λs were inducible even in a small amount of PBMC, and IFN-λ3 was more robustly up-regulated by R-837 in PBMC of CHC patients with favorable genotype for the response to Peg-IFN/RBV (TT in rs8099917) than those with TG/GG. Importantly, the protein levels of IFN-λ3 induced by R-837 clearly differentiated the response to Peg-IFN/RBV treatment (p = 1.0 × 10(-10)), including cases that IL28B genotyping failed to predict the treatment response. The measurement of IFN-λ3 protein more accurately predicted treatment efficacies (95.7 %) than that of IL28B genotyping (65.2 %).

CONCLUSIONS:

Genetic variations around IL28B basically affect IFN-λ3 production, but different amounts of IFN-λ3 protein determines the outcomes of Peg-IFN/RBV treatment. This study, for the first time, presents compelling evidence that IL28B confer a functional phenotype.

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