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BACKGROUND: There have been few studies on the potential immunological factors associated with viral controls in antiviral-experienced patients on a second round of combination therapy. In this study, we evaluated the level of systemic cytokines and potential impact on combination therapy in both antiviral-naïve and -experienced patients chronically infected with hepatitis C virus. METHODS: Longitudinal analysis of 27 cytokines and chemokines was performed using the multiplex Biorad 27 plex assay in 37 antiviral-naïve and 24 experienced chronically HCV-1b-infected patients during combination therapy with peginterferon-alfa and ribavirin. A group of healthy donors was included as the control (n=11). RESULTS: Fifty percent of antiviral-experienced chronically HCV-patients could achieve a delayed and slow virologic response after 48 weeks combination therapy, comparing with an early and fast virologic response in antiviral-naïve patients. A distinction of immune mediators profiling before and during antiviral therapy between antiviral-naïve and -experienced patients was identified, IL-4, IFN-γ and CCL-3 (MIP-1a) were significantly higher in naïve patients than those in experienced patients (P=0.005, 0.047 and 0.017, respectively) while G-CSF in naïve was lower than in experienced patients (P<0.05). Notably, higher Th1 type cytokine IFN-γ and lower Th2 type cytokine IL-4 at baseline and week 4 were associated with HCV clearance in naïve patients, and a similar trend appeared at week 12 in experienced patients. CONCLUSIONS: We found a successful second round therapy in antiviral-experienced patients appears to be associated with the host immune response. Dominant Th1-polar cytokines, especially IFN-γ, is a potential predictor of viral responsiveness.

Original publication




Journal article


Antiviral Res

Publication Date





247 - 254


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Antiviral Agents, Cytokines, Female, Hepatitis C, Chronic, Humans, Interferon-alpha, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Middle Aged, Polyethylene Glycols, Recombinant Proteins, Ribavirin, Th1 Cells, Treatment Outcome, Young Adult