Distribution of the different subtypes of hepatitis C virus in Japan and the effects of interferon: a nationwide survey

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1996 Mar;11(3):201-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.1996.tb00063.x.


Interferon (IFN) is now commonly used for the treatment of type C hepatitis; however, its effects differ depending upon the subtype of hepatitis C virus (HCV) being treated. It has been recently confirmed in many studies in Japan that the effectiveness of IFN treatment is poor in patients having type 1b and better in patients having type 2a HCV. However, the effects of IFN treatment on other subtypes of HCV were not clear because of the small number of patients in each hospital. In the present study, the effects of IFN treatment in patients with other HCV subtypes were analysed from nationwide data collected in Japan using a standard questionnaire. From this questionnaire, local differences in the distribution of HCV subtypes in Japan were also analysed. A standard questionnaire, consisting of questions about the number of patients with chronic type C hepatitis with different HCV subtypes and the number of patients showing different responses to IFN treatment, was sent to over 40 study groups in Japan. Answers to the questionnaire concerning HCV subtypes and the effects of IFN treatment were obtained from 26 and 22 hospitals, respectively, throughout Japan. The incidence of HCV type 1b was highest in the Kinki area (south-central Japan). The incidence of type 1b HCV decreased in parallel with distance from this area. The mortality rates of hepatic cancer in different areas were significantly correlated with the incidence of HCV type 1b. The efficacy of IFN treatment was significantly better for both types 2a and 2b HCV than for type 1b HCV; the efficacy of IFN treatment was poor in the mixed type of 1b and 2a and tended to be better in type 1a. The efficacy of IFN treatment for other types of HCV was also better. These results indicate that there are local differences in the distribution of HCV subtypes in Japan and that these differences may be closely associated with the clinical features of HCV-related liver disease. The efficacy of IFN treatment was significantly poorer in patients with the 1b-related type HCV than in patients with other types of HCV.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / complications
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / mortality
  • Chronic Disease
  • Hepacivirus / classification*
  • Hepatitis C / complications
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis C / therapy
  • Hepatitis C / virology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Interferons / therapeutic use*
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Liver Neoplasms / complications
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Interferons