Biochemical response to interferon therapy correlates with interferon sensitivity-determining region in hepatitis C virus genotype 1b infection


Kentaro Yoshioka Third Department of Internal Medicine, Nagoya University School of Medicine, 65 Tsuruma-cho, Showa-ku, Nagoya 466–8550, Japan. E-mail:


Biochemical responders maintain normal alanine aminotransferase levels after interferon (IFN) therapy despite persistent presence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA in their sera. There have been few reports on predictive factors for biochemical response. A region associated with sensitivity to IFN was identified in the nonstructural protein 5 A of genotype 1b [aa 2209–2248; IFN sensitivity-determining region (ISDR)]. The substitutions in ISDR correlate with sustained response to IFN. In this report, we assessed the association of ISDR with biochemical response. The sequences of ISDR were determined in 62 patients with HCV genotype 1b treated by IFN in two randomized controlled trials. 30 patients had wild ISDR (identical to HCV-J), 20 intermediate ISDR (1–3 amino acid substitutions compared with HCV-J), and 12 mutant ISDR (four or more amino acid substitutions). All 12 patients with mutant ISDR had a sustained response, while only one of those with wild or intermediate ISDR had a sustained response (P < 0.0001). In the 49 patients other than sustained responders, the patients with intermediate ISDR obtained biochemical response significantly more frequently (52.6%, 10/19) than those with wild-type ISDR (20.0%, 6/30) (P < 0.05). Multivariate analysis indicated the number of substitutions in ISDR as the most important predictor for biochemical response (discriminant coefficient=1.08, P < 0.05) and sustained response (discriminant coefficient=6.13, P < 0.0001). In phylogenetic analysis, clustering of sustained responders and biochemical responders was observed. These results demonstrate that the substitutions in ISDR are the most important predictor for biochemical response to IFN in patients infected with genotype 1b as well as for sustained response.