Associations among clinical, immunological, and viral quasispecies measurements in advanced chronic hepatitis C


  • Conflict of interest: Nothing to report.


The relationships among host immune and viral factors and the severity of liver disease due to hepatitis C virus (HCV) are poorly understood. Previous studies have focused on individual components of the immune response to HCV, often in relatively small numbers of patients. We measured HCV-specific lymphoproliferation (LP), intrahepatic cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL), and neutralizing antibody (NA) responses and HCV quasispecies (QS) diversity and complexity in a large cohort of subjects with advanced liver fibrosis (Ishak stages 3-6) on entry into the HALT-C (Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-term Treatment against Cirrhosis) trial. We correlated LP, CTL, NA, and QS results with clinical characteristics, including serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT), HCV RNA level, HCV genotype, and hepatic histopathology. LP, CTL, and NA responses were detected in 37%, 22%, and 22% of subjects tested, respectively. The only association that was statistically significant was higher mean serum ALT values in patients with detectable HCV-specific CTL responses (P = .03). In conclusion, immune responses to HCV and viral diversity showed little relationship to clinical or histological features at a single time point in this selected population of patients with advanced chronic hepatitis C for whom prior interferon treatment had failed. (HEPATOLOGY 2005;41:617–625.)