Pretreatment serum interleukin-12 levels in predicting sustained virological response among hepatitis C patients following Pegylated Interferon-α2β plus Ribavirin treatment

Authors Antony Perperas, Demetris Karagiannakis, George Anagnostopoulos, Alexandra Tsirogiannis, Dimosthenis Panagiotakos, Savvas Papadopoulos, Manolis Tsagkaris, Chryssa Papasteriades, Spilios Manolakopoulos.


Background Dendritic cells activated by hepatitis C virus (HCV) produce high amounts of interleukin (IL)-12, considered to be associated with HCV clearance. The aim of this study was to investigate the IL-12 levels in HCV-infected patients, before and after the application of combination therapy with Pegylated Interferon-α2β plus Ribavirin.

Methods Laboratory data of IL-12 levels and other clinical characteristics were selected from 26 HCV-infected patients. Comparisons of IL-12 serum levels before and after treatment or between responders and non-responders (including relapsers) were performed using nonparametric tests. The study moreover investigated the probable relationship of IL-12 concentrations with viral load, HCV genotypes, liver function tests (LFTs), histological activity and the response to combination treatment.

Results The baseline IL-12 levels were found significantly higher in patients who achieved sustained virological response (SVR), compared to patients who did not respond to the combination treatment (P=0.029). The IL-12 levels at the end of treatment were not statistically different from the IL-12 baseline levels, in both responders and non-responders. Baseline serum levels of IL-12 higher than 3 pg/mL (cut-off) were found to positively predict patients who successfully responded to treatment. No statistical correlation was found between the baseline serum IL-12 levels and viral load, HCV genotypes, histological activity or LFTs among the HCV patients.

Conclusion Pretreatment IL-12 levels seem to predict which patients will achieve SVR to treatment. Patients with increased IL-12 serum levels were more likely to achieve SVR.

Keywords Cytokine, dendritic cells, hepatitis C, interleukin-12, Pegylated interferon α2β, T-helper cells

Original Articles