The pathogenesis of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection remains unclear. Tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) is alleged to contribute in the pathogenesis of chronic HCV infection. Single nucleotide polymorphism in TNF-alpha and -beta genes could influence the outcome of HCV infection. The aim was to study single nucleotide polymorphism in TNF-alpha promoter region and Nco I polymorphisms in the TNF-beta gene in patients with chronic hepatitis C. Fifty-two patients with histologically proven chronic hepatitis, who had raised ALT levels (>1.5 x ULN) and were HCV RNA positive, were studied. Genotyping of -308 promoter variant of TNF-alpha was performed by PCR with primers that incorporated an Nco I restriction site. For PCR typing of the TNF-beta Nco I restriction fragment length polymorphism, sequence specific primers were used. Polymorphism in the TNF-alpha G/G, G/A and A/A allele was not different between HCV patients and healthy controls. TNF-beta A/A allele was significantly more common (P = 0.02) in patients (28.8%) as compared to controls (12.8%), whereas no significant difference was observed for TNF-beta G/A and G/G alleles [corrected]. Nco I TNF-beta A/A was strongly associated with -308 TNF-alpha G/G (RR of HCV persistence = 4.9), indicating possible linkage between TNF-beta A/A and TNF-alpha G/G allele. Patients with severe hepatic fibrosis more frequently had the TNF-beta A/A allele as compared to patients with mild disease (P = 0.04). Immunogenetic factors, such as single nucleotide polymorphisms in TNF-beta (A/A allele), may affect the natural course of HCV infection, in particular, the disease progression. Larger studies including cytokine expression profiles are needed to fully understand the contribution of the polymorphisms described in the pathogenesis of chronic hepatitis C.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.