PloS one

Female sex and IL28B, a synergism for spontaneous viral clearance in hepatitis C virus (HCV) seroconverters from a community-based cohort.

PMID 22110669


Since acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is often asymptomatic, it is difficult to examine the rate and determinants of spontaneous clearance. Consequently, these studies are subject to bias, which can potentially lead to biased rates of viral clearance and risk estimates. We evaluated determinants of spontaneous HCV clearance among HCV seroconverters identified in a unique community-based cohort. Subjects were 106 drug users with documented dates of HCV seroconversion from the Amsterdam Cohort Study. Logistic regression was used to examine sociodemographic, behavioral, clinical, viral and host determinants, measured around acute infection, of HCV clearance. The spontaneous viral clearance rate was 33.0% (95% confidence interval (CI) 24.2-42.8). In univariate analyses female sex and fever were significantly associated with spontaneous clearance. The favorable genotypes for rs12979860 (CC) and rs8099917 (TT) were associated with spontaneous clearance, although borderline significant. In multivariate analysis, females with the favorable genotype for rs12979860 (CC) had an increased odds to spontaneously clear HCV infection (adjusted OR 6.62, 95% 2.69-26.13), whereas females with the unfavorable genotype were as likely as men with the favorable and unfavorable genotype to clear HCV. Chronic Hepatitis B infection and absence of HIV coinfection around HCV seroconversion also favor HCV clearance. This study shows that co-infection with HIV and HBV and genetic variation in the IL28B region play an important role in spontaneous clearance of HCV. Our findings suggest a possible synergistic interaction between female sex and IL28B in spontaneous clearance of HCV.