IL28B genetic variants and gender are associated with spontaneous clearance of hepatitis C virus infection

J Viral Hepat. 2012 Mar;19(3):173-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2893.2011.01497.x. Epub 2011 Aug 4.


Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) near the IL28B gene have been shown to be associated with response to treatment for chronic hepatitis C and also with spontaneous clearance of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. We analysed the association between IL28B genetic variants and spontaneous clearance of HCV infection in 376 HCV-infected Chinese paid plasma donors. Genotyping of eight SNPs near the IL28B region was performed by the iPLEX system (MassARRAY(®) SNP Genotyping; Sequenom) in all donors, and sequencing was performed on all 80 donors who cleared HCV and on 160 of 296 donors who did not clear HCV to validate the genotypes. Eighty (21.3%) donors spontaneously cleared HCV. Four SNPs were significantly associated with spontaneous HCV clearance: rs8099917 TT (vs GT), rs8105790 TT (vs CT), rs12980275 AA (vs AG) and rs10853728 CC (vs CG or GG) with OR (95% CI) 15.27 (2.07-112.50), 14.88 (2.02-109.72), 7.92 (1.88-33.32) and 2.32 (1.22-4.42) respectively. No association between the other four IL28B SNPs including rs12979860 and spontaneous HCV clearance was found. Women had a higher rate of spontaneous HCV clearance than men [56/213 (26.3%) vs 24/163 (14.6%), P = 0.007], and this was true even after stratification for IL28B genotypes with OR of 1.9-2.2 among those with favourable genotypes. Our results confirmed that IL28B polymorphism is associated with spontaneous clearance of HCV in Chinese subjects, but the SNPs that predict HCV clearance in Chinese subjects were different from those reported in Caucasians. Women were more likely to clear HCV infection regardless of IL28B genotypes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Hepacivirus / genetics*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / drug therapy
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / genetics*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / virology
  • Humans
  • Interferons
  • Interleukins / genetics*
  • Linkage Disequilibrium
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • Remission, Spontaneous
  • Sex Factors
  • Viral Load


  • Antiviral Agents
  • IFNL3 protein, human
  • Interleukins
  • RNA, Viral
  • Interferons