Background: Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is the major cause of liver failure in thalassemic patients. In these patients, iron overload and their comorbidities make difficulties during Pegylated-Interferon (PEG-IFN) and Ribavirin (RBV) therapy.
Objectives: We aimed to assess the impact of polymorphisms near the IL28B gene on virological response in HCV - infected thalassemic patients, who were treated with PEG-IFN and RBV.
Patients and methods: This cross - sectional study was conducted on 143 thalassemic patients with chronic hepatitis C, who were treated with a combination of PEG-IFN and RBV regimen. The rs12979860 and rs8099917 polymorphisms were assessed as the most common polymorphisms near the IL28B gene by the polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) method.
Results: The rate of sustained virological response (SVR) was significantly lower in thalassemic patients with HCV genotype-1 infection compared to patients with HCV genotype-3 infection. Among baseline predictors, rs12979860 and rs8099917 polymorphisms were found to be the only parameters associated with achievement of SVR in thalassemic patients with HCV genotype-1 infection however, there was no association between these polymorphisms and the rate of SVR in thalassemic patients with HCV genotype-3 infection.
Conclusions: In HCV genotype-1- infected thalassemic patients with rs12979860 CC genotype and without severe comorbidities, PEG-IFN and RBV combination therapy can be tried yet in those with rs12979860 CT/TT it may be reasonable to treat cases with new direct-acting antivirals.
Keywords: Genetic Polymorphism; Hepatitis C; Pegylated-Interferon; Ribavirin; Thalassemia.