Cytokine serum levels in patients with chronic HCV infection

J Clin Lab Anal. 2002;16(1):40-6. doi: 10.1002/jcla.2060.


The pathogenic role of immune-mediated mechanisms in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has not yet been elucidated. In this study, we report different cytokine expression profiles from hemodialysis (HD) and non-HD HCV (+) patients. IL-1beta, IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, TNF-alpha, and TGF-beta1 serum levels, and liver biochemical parameters were determined in 85 individuals (41 HD patients and 44 non-HD patients). Screening for HCV RNA and anti-HCV antibodies was performed using qualitative and quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and standardized enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and recombinant immunoblot assay (RIBA) methods, respectively. IL-4 and IL-1beta demonstrated decreased serum levels in non-HD HCV carriers compared with healthy controls. Both T helper (Th) 1 and Th2 lymphocytes were highly associated with chronic HCV infection, as indicated by the increased IL-2, IL-4, and IL-6 cytokine circulating levels in all chronic active hepatitis (CAH) patients examined. An enhanced Th2 response (IL-4 and IL-6) coupled with increased TNF-alpha and IL-1beta serum levels was reported in HD HCV (-) patients. In conclusion, our data show that a virus-induced Th2 and IL-1beta immunosuppression is an early event in HCV-related chronicity. Long-term HD specifically exerts a chronic effect on IL-6, IL-1beta, and TNF-alpha serum circulating levels. Irrespective of the HD status, HCV viremia, and liver biochemistry parameters, both Th1 and Th2 responses are highly associated with chronic HCV infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / blood*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / immunology
  • Humans
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / blood


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Cytokines
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta