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HVR-1 quasispecies modifications occur early and are correlated to initial but not sustained response in HCV-infected patients treated with pegylated- or standard-interferon and ribavirin

  • Authors: Abbate, I.; LO IACONO, O.; DI STEFANO, R.; Cappiello, G.; Girardi, E.; Longo, R.; Ferraro, D.; Antonucci, G.; DI MARCO, V.; Solmone, M.; Craxi, A.; Ippolito, G.; Capobianchi, M.
  • Publication year: 2004
  • Type: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • Key words: HCV, Interferon, Quasispecies, HVR-1
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Background/Aims: HVR-1 quasispecies composition and evolution were investigated in patients chronically infected with genotype 1b HCV, treated with PEG-IFN a2b or STD-IFN a2b plus RBV. Methods: HVR-1 heterogeneity was assessed by calculating nucleotidic complexity, diversity, synonymous (S) and non-synonymous (NS) substitutions at baseline, after 4 weeks of therapy (T1) and at follow-up (T18). Evolution of viral quasispecies was analysed by constructing phylogenetic trees. Results: No correlation of baseline with heterogeneity was observed.Nucleotidic complexity was lower in patients showing early virological response, and tended to be inversely correlated to viral load decline at 4weeks of treatment. In the majority of SR, profound changes of quasispecies composition occurred during 4 weeks of treatment, while in NR virtually no major changes of pre-therapy variants were observed. Relapse showed both patterns of quasispecies evolution. Virus quasispecies after follow-up was similar to that found at T1 in both Relapsers and NR patients. Conclusions: Baseline parameters of HVR-1 heterogeneity seem to be involved in the early response to treatment, and early response is associated with profound variations in the HVR-1 quasispecies. Viral quasispecies surviving early therapeutic pressure are most likely able to give rise to either virus rebound or persistence at T18.