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Genes Play a Role in Susceptibility to Hepatitis C

Functional APOE gene polymorphisms may determine outcome of infection

THURSDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- The presence of certain APOE gene polymorphisms may determine susceptibility to hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, according to a study in the May issue of Gut.

Prof. Margaret F. Bassendine, of the University of Newcastle in the U.K., and colleagues looked at apolipoprotein E (APOE) because it is found in very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) and binds to potential receptors involved in the entry of HCV into cells. VLDL and low-density lipoproteins are associated with HCV.

Using a sample of 420 Northern European patients with evidence of exposure to HCV, the authors determined their APOE genotype. They compared this, as well as their allele distribution, with 288 healthy controls. Progression of liver disease and viral clearance were analyzed according to APOE allele status.

The study found an association between both the APOE*E2 and APOE*E4 alleles and reduced likelihood of chronic infection. In the HCV antibody positive group there was a notable absence of the E2E2 genotype. Those carrying the E2,E3 and E2,E4 alleles had a threefold to fivefold reduced risk of chronic HCV infection.

"Functional APOE gene polymorphisms may be a determinant of outcome in HCV infection. We hypothesize that the E2 allele may protect against viral persistence via defective binding of HCV lipoviral particles to the cellular receptors involved in entry of these infectious particles," the authors conclude.

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