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Keywords:

  • hepatitis C virus;
  • ISDR;
  • interferon;
  • ribavirin

Abstract

The degree of variability of the interferon sensitivity determining region (ISDR) in the hepatitis C virus (HCV) genome has been postulated to predict the response to interferon therapy, mainly in patients infected with subtype 1b, although this prediction has been the subject of a long controversy. This prediction has been tested by analyzing a cohort of 67 Spanish patients infected with HCV genotype 1, 23 of which were infected with subtype 1a and 44 with subtype 1b. A sample previous to therapy with α-interferon plus ribavirin was obtained and several clones (between 25 and 96) including the ISDR were sequenced from each patient. A significant correlation between mutations at the ISDR and response to treatment for subtype 1b patients, but not for those infected with subtype 1a, has been detected. Although the results suggest that the same relationship holds true for subtype 1a, lack of statistical power because of the small sample size of this subtype prevented firmer conclusions. However, identical ISDR sequences were found in responder and non-responder patients, suggesting that the stability of the ISDR sequence can occasionally help HCV to evade interferon therapy, although this is not a sufficient condition. More complex interactions, including the ISDR or not, are likely to exist and govern the HCV response to interferon treatment. J. Med. Virol. 80:247–253, 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.