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Gene Variant May Shield Liver from Hepatitis C Harm

A variant allele of the genetic receptor TLR7 may help immune system protect against liver inflammation

MONDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection are less likely to have liver inflammation and fibrosis if they have a specific variant of the gene for toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7), according to a study in the August issue of the Journal of Hepatology.

Eckart Schott, M.D., of the Charite University of Medicine in Berlin, Germany, and colleagues tested liver biopsies of 427 men and 380 women with chronic hepatitis C infection. They compared grade of inflammation and degree of fibrosis and TLR7 single nucleotide polymorphisms.

Of five TLR7 polymorphisms, one variant allele (c.1-120T > G) was more common in men with little or no inflammation (10.7 versus 6.1 percent) or fibrosis (12.6 versus 6.6 percent), compared to those with more inflammation or fibrosis. The differences in females were statistically insignificant, possibly due to TLR7's location on the X-chromosome.

"Our data suggest that c.1-120T > G is protective regarding the development of inflammation and fibrosis," the authors write. "We propose that drugs that modify innate immune responses mediated by TLR7 may not only be useful for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus infections but may also influence the degree of inflammation and fibrosis, making TLR7 a promising target for pharmacological approaches in chronic hepatitis C virus infection."

Abstract
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