Background/objectives: An ineffective cytokine response is thought to be one of the reasons for the failure to suppress hepatitis B virus (HBV) replication and to eliminate the virus. We investigated the serum levels of interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, IL-12, and interferon (IFN)-gamma in HBV-infected Vietnamese patients to determine whether they were related to the outcome of HBV infection.
Study design: Samples from a total of 154 HBV-infected patients with well-characterised clinical profiles and 56 healthy controls were assessed.
Results: Serum IL-6 levels, which were inversely correlated with transaminase levels, were highest in patients with liver cirrhosis (LC) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and lowest in those with either asymptomatic (ASYM), acute or chronic HBV, and thus, represented the best marker of HBV-related clinical progression. Compared with the healthy control group, serum IL-12 was uniformly elevated in all HBV-infected patients apart from those with ASYM infections, implying no impairment of production of this cytokine in HBV-infected individuals. Serum IL-10 and IFN-gamma levels, however, were uniformly low and showed no association with clinical presentation. Cytokine profiles were not influenced by the presence of hepatitis B e antigen (HbeAg).
Conclusions: Serum IL-6 and IL-12 but not IL-10 and IFN-gamma are associated with the clinical presentation in HBV-infected Vietnamese patients.