Concern has arisen about the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection treated with direct-acting antivirals (DAAs). To identify patients at risk for HCC, we evaluated serum levels of immune mediators before, during, and after DAA treatment of HCV infection. Our study included 13 patients who developed HCC within 18 months after treatment (3 with HCC recurrence and 10 with new HCC) and 10 patients who did not develop HCC (controls), within at least 24 months of treatment (median, 26 months). We identified a set of 12 immune mediators (cytokines, growth factors, and apoptosis markers) whose levels were significantly higher in serum before DAA treatment of patients who eventually developed de novo HCC compared with controls. A panel of 9 cytokines, measured in serum before treatment (MIG, IL22, TRAIL, APRIL, VEGF, IL3, TWEAK, SCF, IL21), identified patients who developed de novo HCC with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve value higher than 0.8. Further analyses of changes in levels of inflammatory cytokines during DAA treatment also provides important information about HCV-induced carcinogenesis and the effects of DAAs.

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Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

Debes, J. D., van Tilborg, M., Groothuismink, Z., Hansen, B.E. (Bettina E.), Schulze zur Wiesch, J. (Julian), von Felden, J. (Johann), … Boonstra, A. (2018). Levels of Cytokines in Serum Associate With Development of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Patients With HCV Infection Treated With Direct-Acting Antivirals. Gastroenterology, 154(3), 515–517.e3. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2017.10.035