Genetic variation in interleukin 28B with respect to vertical transmission of hepatitis C virus and spontaneous clearance in HCV-infected children


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.

  • Supported in part by a grant from Ciberehd (Ciberehd is funded by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III), and by grants from Fondo de Investigaciones Sanitarias (FIS, Instituto de Salud Carlos III), No. PI080704 and from Consejería de Salud (SAS), Junta de Andalucía No. PI0635-2010.


The vertical transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV-VT) is a major route of HCV infection in children, but the risk factors remain incompletely understood. This study analyzed the role of interleukin 28B (IL28B) in HCV-VT and in the spontaneous clearance of HCV among infected infants. Between 1991 and 2009, 145 mothers were recruited for this study: 100 were HCV-RNA+ve / human immunodeficiency virus negative (HIV−ve), with 128 children, and 33 were HCV-RNA−ve/HCV antibody+ve, with 43 children. The infants were tested for HCV-RNA at birth and at regular intervals until the age of 6 years. IL28B (single nucleotide polymorphism rs12979860) was determined in the mothers and children. HCV-VT was assumed when children presented HCV-RNA+ve in two subsequent blood samples. HCV-VT-infected infants were categorized as: (1) transient viremia with posterior HCV-RNA−ve and without serum-conversion; (2) persistent infection with serum-conversion. Of the 31 mothers with CC polymorphism, 19 (61%) were HCV-RNA+ve, whereas among the 68 mothers with non-CC polymorphism, 56 (82%) were HCV-RNA+ve. In all, 26 of 128 (20%) infants born to the HCV-RNA+ve mothers acquired HCV infection, but only 9 (7%) were chronically infected. The rate of HCV-VT was higher among the mothers with higher HCV viremia. No HCV-VT was detected in the HCV-RNA−ve women. Neither the mothers' nor the childrens' IL-28 status was associated with an increased risk of HCV-VT. The factors influencing viral clearance among the infected children were genotype non-1 and genotype CC of IL28B. In logistic regression, child CC polymorphism was the only predictor of HCV-clearance in HCV genotype-1. Conclusion: High maternal viral load is the only predictive factor of HCV-VT. IL28B plays no role in HCV-VT, but IL28B CC child polymorphism is associated independently with the spontaneous clearance of HCV genotype-1 among infected children. (HEPATOLOGY 2011;)