Author(s): Sherman KE, Rouster SD, Mendenhall C, Thee D
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Abstract Alcohol abuse is described as a major cofactor in the development of hepatitis C (HCV) associated liver disease and may play a role in the outcome of interferon-based treatment interventions. The association between HCV viral heterogeneity and alcohol has not been previously described. This study was designed to evaluate the quasispecies nature of the HCV population in patients with compensated and decompensated alcoholic liver disease, to test the hypothesis that alcoholics have greater complexity than matched nonalcoholic controls. A nonisotopic heteroduplex complexity assay (HCA) was first validated by comparison with results of quasispecies complexity determined by subcloning and sequencing of amplicon products from the E2/NS1 hypervariable coding region (HVR). Subsequently, this methodology was applied to comparison of 20 compensated (Child's-Pugh A) and decompensated (Child's-Pugh B/C) alcoholic and 20 nonalcoholic controls. The complexity of the HVR, as well as the 5' Untranslated (5'UT) and the NS5b coding domains were evaluated. The HCA methodology provided a reasonable semiquantitative measure of HCV RNA quasispecies variability compared with subclone sequence homology comparison. Overall, alcoholic patients had greater quasispecies complexity (2.65 bands) than nonalcoholic controls (1.6 bands; P =.01). Subset analysis revealed that compensated alcoholic patients had a mean of 3.1 homo/heteroduplex bands per sample whereas Child's-Pugh B/C alcoholics showed intermediate complexity. A similar quasispecies complexity difference was seen in the 5'UTR, but not in the NS5b coding domain. Quasispecies complexity was not associated with viral titer, complementary DNA concentration, or genotype. The differences in quasispecies complexity may help explain reports of poor interferon responsiveness in alcoholic patients.
This article was published in Hepatology
and referenced in Biological Systems: Open Access