The Journal of infectious diseases

Lymphocytes degranulation in liver in hepatitis C virus carriers is associated with IFNL4 polymorphisms and ALT levels.

PMID 24415789


The polymorphisms of IFNL4 are strongly associated with both spontaneous hepatitis C virus (HCV) clearance and response to peg-IFN-α/ribavirin treatment. To further establish the biological effects of the IFNL4 and rs1297860 variations, we studied the activity of liver immune cells. Fresh liver samples were collected from HCV-infected patients before any treatment and from NASH patients as controls. Degranulation activity of each lymphocyte type was assessed by the surface expression of CD107a. IFNL4 polymorphisms and HCV genotypes were determined. In the liver, frequency of CD107a(+) immune cells was significantly higher in HCV patients compared to NASH patients. Higher degranulation activity was observed in lymphocytes of HCV patients with favorable IFNL4 genotypes compared to patients with unfavorable genotypes. Multivariate regression analyses indicated that serum ALT levels were dependent on both Metavir activity score and frequency of CD107a positive NKT cells. The high level of degranulation activity observed before treatment was associated with a high HCV RNA decline at the early stage of peg-IFN-α/ribavirin treatment in patients with favorable genotypes. These data underline that intrahepatic lymphocyte degranulation activity in HCV-infected patients is associated with IFNL4 polymorphisms and contributes to the clearance of HCV in patients with favorable genotypes under antiviral therapy.