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Heterogeneity of HVR-1 quasispecies is predictive of early but not sustained virological response in genotype 1b-infected patients undergoing combined treatment with PEG- or STD-IFN plus RBV

  • Authors: Abbate, I.; Cappiello, G.; LO IACONO, O.; Longo, R.; Ferraro, D.; Antonucci, G.; DI MARCO, V.; DI STEFANO, R.; Craxi, A.; Solmone, M.; Spanò, A.; Ippolito, G.; Capobianchi, M.
  • Publication year: 2003
  • Type: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • Key words: Antiviral Agents; Drug Therapy, Combination; Genotype; Hepacivirus; Hepatitis C, Chronic; Humans; Linear Models; Phylogeny; Recombinant Proteins; Ribavirin; Sequence Alignment; Sequence Analysis, DNA; Treatment Outcome; Viral Load; Viral Nonstructural Proteins; Viral Proteins; Genetic Heterogeneity; Interferon-alpha; Polyethylene Glycols
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ISDR mutation pattern and HVR-1 quasispecies were analyzed in HCV genotype 1b-infected patients treated with either PEG- or STD-IFN plus ribavirin, in order to find virological correlates of therapy outcome. ISDR region analysis, performed at baseline (T0) and at 4 weeks of therapy (T1), indicated that ISDR mutation pattern was not predictive of response to treatment. Moreover, no selection of putative resistant strains in the first month of therapy was observed. Viral load was not correlated with any parameter of HVR-1 heterogeneity. Among the HVR-1 heterogeneity parameters considered, complexity was inversely correlated to viral load decline at T1. In univariate analysis, complexity, proportion of non synonymous substitutions (NS) and NS/S ratio were lower in patients showing virological response at 6 months of treatment. Complexity was the only parameter independently associated with both decline of viral load at T1 and virological response after 6 months, even after adjustment for confounding variables. At the end of treatment or later, these correlations were lost. Evolution pattern of the HVR-1 quasispecies indicated a strong selective pressure in sustained responders, with complete substitution of pre-existing quasispecies, while minor changes occured in non responders. In relapsers both patterns were present at a similar rate. In conclusion, this study shows that HVR-1 heterogeneity may be involved in the early response to combined IFN-RBV therapy. The loss of correlation between viral heterogeneity and therapy outcome at 6 months of therapy, or later, suggests that other factors may play a role in maintaining sustained response to treatment.