Putative association of transforming growth factor-α polymorphisms with clearance of hepatitis B virus and occurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection


Hyo-Suk Lee, MD. Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, 28 Yeongon Dong, Chongno Gu, Seoul, 110-744, Korea. E-mail: hsleemd@snu.ac.kr


Summary.  Previous studies showed that several genetic polymorphisms might influence the clinical outcome of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, including HBV clearance or development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The aim of this study was to determine whether polymorphisms of the transforming growth factor-α (TGF-α) gene are associated with clinical outcome of HBV infection. A total of 1096 Korean subjects having either present or past evidence of HBV infection were prospectively enrolled between January 2001 and August 2003. Among 16 genetic variants in TGFA gene, nine variants were genotyped using TaqMan assay and the genetic association with HBV clearance and HCC occurrence was analysed. Statistical analyses revealed that TGFA+103461T>C, TGFA+106151C>G and TGFA-ht2 were marginally associated with clearance of HBV infection. However, only TGFA-ht2 retained significance after multiple correction (OR = 0.39, Pcorr = 0.007 in recessive model). Although no variants were significant after multiple correction, TGFA+88344G>A and TGFA+103461T>C were weakly associated in recessive model in the analysis of HCC occurrence. In addition, Cox relative hazards model also revealed that TGFA+88344G>A was associated with onset age of HCC occurrence in subjects (RH = 1.46, Pcorr = 0.04). TGF-α polymorphisms might be an important factor in immunity, progression of inflammatory process and carcinogenesis, which explains the variable outcome of HBV infection at least in part. Further biological evidence is warranted in the future to support these suggestive associations.