Background: Oxidative stress is extremely important in the pathogenesis of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV). In response to oxidative stress, adaptive antioxidant defenses are upregulated in the liver. The balance between antioxidant response and oxidative stress plays a key role in hepatic injury in HCV infection.
Objectives: The objective of this study was to assess the hepatic expression of the antioxidant genes GFER (growth factor erv1-like) and NQO1 (NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase-1) and the regulatory gene NFE2L2 (nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor-2) in liver biopsy specimens obtained from chronic HCV patients with regard to selected clinical parameters and histology, and to determine whether GFER and NQO1 expression is dependent on NFE2L2.
Material and methods: The study group consisted of 42 patients with chronic HCV. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was used to analyze the expression of antioxidant and regulatory genes in liver biopsy samples.
Results: Positive correlation was observed between the hepatic expression of NFE2L2 and NQO1 in the chronic HCV patients (p < 0.0001). The hepatic expression of NFE2L2 was significantly lower in patients with advanced liver fibrosis (p = 0.05). However, there was no significant difference in the hepatic expression of GFER and NQO1 in relation to the progression of liver steatosis, inflammation and fibrosis.
Conclusions: The hepatic expression of NFE2L2 is associated with NQO1 and low stage of hepatic fibrosis in patients infected with HCV.
Keywords: antioxidant genes; hepatitis C; liver fibrosis; regulatory gene.