Scientific publications

Interferon alfa subtypes and levels of type I interferons in the liver and peripheral mononuclear cells in patients with chronic hepatitis C and controls

Castelruiz Y, Larrea E, Boya P, Civeira MP [SP], Prieto J.
Department of Medicine and Liver Unit, Clinica Universitaria, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain

Magazine: Hepatology

Date: Jun 1, 1999

Hepatology

Viral infections stimulate the transcription of interferon type I, which includes IFN-alfa (IFN-alpha) (13 subtypes) and IFN-beta (a single substance). Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is remarkable by its ability to evade host antiviral defenses; however, there is little information as to whether endogenous IFN is activated or not in this disease.

Additionally, despite the fact that the various IFN-alpha subtypes may differ in biological activity, there are no data concerning the IFN-alpha subtypes specifically expressed in normal and diseased liver tissue. Thus, we have analyzed the IFN-alpha subtypes and the mRNA levels of type I IFNs in samples of normal liver tissue and in liver from patients with chronic hepatitis C. Similar studies were performed in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from patients and controls.

After amplification and cloning of IFN-alpha cDNA, we observed that 98 of the 100 clones from normal liver tissue corresponded to the IFN-alpha5 subtype. However, in livers with chronic hepatitis C and in PBMC from controls and patients, a variety of subtypes, in addition to IFN-alpha5, were detected, suggesting a participation of infiltrating leukocytes in the production of IFN-alpha in livers with chronic hepatitis C. As compared with controls, patients with chronic hepatitis C showed a significant increase in IFN-beta mRNA in both the liver and PBMC, while IFN-alpha mRNA was significantly increased in PBMC but markedly reduced in liver tissue. In conclusion, IFN-alpha5 is the sole IFN-alpha subtype expressed in normal liver tissue.

The hepatic levels of IFN-alpha are reduced in chronic hepatitis C, an event that may favor viral persistence.

CITATION Hepatology. 1999 Jun;29(6):1900-4

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