Genomics and HCV infection: progression of fibrosis and treatment response

J Hepatol. 2012 Nov;57(5):1110-25. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2012.05.016. Epub 2012 May 30.


HCV infection is a global health problem that affects 170 million people worldwide. The severity of the disease varies from asymptomatic chronic infection to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Recently, the standard of care for genotype 1 patients has greatly improved with the addition of protease inhibitors (telaprevir or boceprevir) to pegylated interferon (PegIFN) and ribavirin (RBV). The prediction of fibrosis progression and the response to antiviral treatment are two major issues in the management of patients with chronic hepatitis C. Differential expression of mRNAs was first analyzed for both progression of fibrosis and treatment response. Specific polymorphisms, associated with either fibrosis or viral response, were identified thanks to major improvements in genome scanning technologies. Since 2009, several independent genome wide association studies (GWAS) have reported an association between genetic polymorphisms within the IL-28B promoter and both natural and treatment-induced clearance in genotype 1 infected patients. These different studies showed the strong association and the importance of IL-28B polymorphisms in the treatment response. Combining the different genetic factors could improve their predictive value and help identify patients at a high risk of progression of fibrosis as well as those with a lower chance of responding to treatment. The aim of this review was to discuss the genomic factors (mRNAs, miRNAs, and SNPs) and HCV infection with clinical implications for either progression of fibrosis or treatment response. Recent findings on the IL-28B polymorphism and its application in clinical practice will also be discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Progression*
  • Genomics*
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / genetics
  • Humans
  • Interferons
  • Interleukins / genetics
  • Liver Cirrhosis*
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Treatment Outcome


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