25-Hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) can potentially interfere with inflammatory response and fibrogenesis. Its role in disease progression in chronic hepatitis C (CHC) and its relation with histological and sustained virological response (SVR) to therapy are unknown. One hundred ninety-seven patients with biopsy-proven genotype 1 (G1) CHC and 49 healthy subjects matched by age and sex were consecutively evaluated. One hundred sixty-seven patients underwent antiviral therapy with pegylated interferon plus ribavirin. The 25(OH)D serum levels were measured by high-pressure liquid chromatography. Tissue expression of cytochrome (CY) P27A1 and CYP2R1, liver 25-hydroxylating enzymes, were assessed by immunochemistry in 34 patients with CHC, and in eight controls. The 25(OH)D serum levels were significantly lower in CHC than in controls (25.07 +/- 9.92 microg/L versus 43.06 +/- 10.19; P < 0.001). Lower levels of 25(OH)D were independently linked to female sex (P = 0.007) and necroinflammation (P = 0.04) by linear regression analysis. CYP27A1, but not CYP2R1, was directly related to 25(OH)D levels (P = 0.01), and inversely to necroinflammation (P = 0.01). Low 25(OH)D (odds ratio [OR], 0.942; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.893-0.994) and cholesterol (OR, 0.981; 95%CI, 0.969-0.992) levels, older age (OR, 1.043; 95%CI, 1.002-1.085), high ferritin (OR, 1.003; 95%CI, 1.001-1.005), and necroinflammation (OR, 2.235; 95%CI, 1.014-4.929) were independently associated with severe fibrosis (F3-F4) by multivariate logistic analysis. Seventy patients (41%) achieved SVR. By multivariate analysis, hepatic steatosis (OR, 0.971; 95%CI, 0.944-0.999), lower cholesterol (OR, 1.009; 95% CI, 1.000-1.018), and 25(OH)D levels (OR, 1.039; 95%CI, 1.002-1.077) were independently associated with no SVR.
Conclusion: G1 CHC patients had low 25(OH)D serum levels, possibly because of reduced CYP27A1 expression. Low vitamin D is linked to severe fibrosis and low SVR on interferon (IFN)-based therapy.