Background: Chronic hepatitis C (CHC) is a significant cause of liver related morbidity and mortality worldwide. The role of genetics in the host response to hepatitis C virus is not elucidated. Genetic variations in UGT1A1 gene are the most common cause of hereditary unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia-Gilbert syndrome. This is the first study investigating the association of UGT1A1 TA repeats promoter genotypes with the degree of liver injury, viremia and biochemical markers in CHC patients with advanced liver injury and late virological relapse.
Methods: Genetic testing of UGT1A1 TA repeats promoter genotypes was performed in 42 CHC patients with advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis who achieved sustained virological response and 42 healthy blood donors. CHC patients were evaluated for clinical findings, laboratory tests and imaging.
Results: UGT1A1*28 genotype (7/7 TA repeats) was observed in 23.8% CHC patients and 16.7% healthy controls with no significant difference in genotype frequencies (p=0.49). Pretreatment levels of ferritin and bilirubin were associated with the presence of UGT1A1*28 genotype, indicating its potential as a predictive marker. However, in our study, there was no correlation of UGT1A1*28 genotype with the degree of fibrosis or viremia. During antiviral treatment, dose reductions and treatment interruptions, as well as treatment success and occurrence of late virological relapse were not related to the presence of UGT1A1*28 genotype in CHC patients with severe liver injury.
Conclusions: Frequencies of UGT1A1*28 genotype are high in both Serbian CHC patients and healthy subjects. The presence of UGT1A1*28 genotype was not associated with ribavirin-related adverse effects and had no effect on long term outcome in CHC patients.