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Keywords:

  • HCV;
  • hepatitis C;
  • HLA;
  • liver disease;
  • spontaneous viral clearance;
  • viral genotype

Abstract

Background: The ethnic influence makes it difficult to reach a consensual definition of host-dependent genetic factors controlling the hepatitis C virus (HCV) disease course.

Aims: To investigate, in an ethnically complex Brazilian population, whether human leucocyte antigen (HLA) molecules are associated with susceptibility to HCV infection, self-limiting viral clearance and predisposition to chronic disease.

Methods: One hundred and four HCV-antibody-positive patients (stratified into groups with spontaneous viral clearance and chronic HCV infection) and 166 healthy controls were submitted to HLA genotyping.

Results: Two strong associations were observed between the susceptibility to HCV infection and DRB3 [odds ratio (OR), 4.03; 95% confidence interval (CI), 2.40–6.77; Pc=0.0000041] and DQB1*02 (OR, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.05–2.84; P=0.041), and between the spontaneous viral clearance and DRB1*01 (OR, 4.59; 95% CI, 1.70–12.41; P=0.003) and DQB1*03 (OR, 2.83; 95% CI, 1.14–7.02; P=0.029). No evidence was observed regarding the epidemiology or viral genotype influence on the disease course.

Conclusion: We could confirm with a highly admixed population the association of viral clearance with two allele groups (DRB1*01 and DQB1*03) previously reported in homogeneous populations. The identification of DRB1*01 and DQB1*03 involved with self-limiting hepatitis in different ethnic groups is a very important finding that will contribute to the current knowledge about HCV–host interaction and the development of therapeutic vaccines.