Table of Contents
Hepatitis Research and Treatment
Volume 2013, Article ID 374196, 7 pages
Clinical Study

Interferon-α-Induced Changes to Natural Killer Cells Are Associated with the Treatment Outcomes in Patients with HCV Infections

1Department of Medicine and Biosystemic Science, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kyushu University, Fukuoka 812-8252, Japan
2The Center for Liver Disease, Shin-Kokura Hospital, Kitakyushu 803-8505, Japan
3Department of Internal Medicine, Chihaya Hospital, Fukuoka 813-8501, Japan
4Department of Medicine, Hamanomachi Hospital, Fukuoka 810-8539, Japan
5Department of Medicine, Kitakyushu Municipal Medical Center, Kitakyushu 802-0077, Japan
6Department of General Internal Medicine, Kyushu University Hospital, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan

Received 24 April 2013; Accepted 7 July 2013

Academic Editor: Tatehiro Kagawa

Copyright © 2013 Shinji Shimoda et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Aim. We analyzed the pretreatment natural killer (NK) cell functions with the aim of predicting the sustained virological response (SVR) or the interleukin (IL) 28B polymorphism that is strongly associated with the treatment response. Methods. The peripheral NK cells from chronic hepatitis patients with HCV genotype 1 and high virus titers were activated using a Toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 ligand and IFN-α. The cell surface markers were evaluated using a flow cytometric analysis, and IFN-γ production was evaluated using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The genotyping of the polymorphisms in the IL28B gene region (rs8099917) on chromosome 19 was performed on the DNA collected from each patient. Results. The production of IFN-γ was significantly higher in the SVR patients compared with the no-response (NR) patients, whereas the cell surface markers were similar between the SVR and the NR patients. There were no significant differences found in the IL28B genotype distribution associated with the production of IFN-γ. Conclusion. Differences in the NK cell functions were observed between the SVR patients and the NR patients, suggesting that NK cells play a potential role in the treatment response independent of the IL28B genotype.