In humans, clearance of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with genetic variation near the IL-28B gene and the induction of interferon-stimulated genes, like IP-10. Also in chimpanzees spontaneous clearance of HCV is observed. To study whether similar correlations exist in these animals, a direct comparison of IP-10 and IL-28B polymorphism between chimpanzees and patients was performed. All chimpanzees studied were monomorphic for the human IL-28B SNPs which are associated with spontaneous and treatment induced HCV clearance in humans. As a result, these particular SNPs cannot be used for clinical association studies in chimpanzees. Although these human SNPs were absent in chimpanzees, gene variation in this region was present however, no correlation was observed between different SNP-genotypes and HCV outcome. Strikingly, IP-10 levels in chimpanzees correlated with HCV-RNA load and γGT, while such correlations were not observed in humans. The correlation between IP-10, γGT and virus load in chimpanzees was not found in patients and may be due to the lack of lifestyle-related confounding factors in chimpanzees. Direct comparison of IP-10 and IL-28B polymorphism between chimpanzees and patients in relation to HCV infection, illustrates that the IFN-pathways are important during HCV infection in both species. The Genbank EMBL accession numbers assigned to chimpanzees specific sequences near the IL-28B gene are HE599784 and HE599785.

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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Verstrepen, B., de Groot, N., Groothuismink, Z., Verschoor, E., de Groen, R., Bogers, W., … Boonstra, A. (2012). Evaluation of IL-28B Polymorphisms and Serum IP-10 in Hepatitis C Infected Chimpanzees. PLoS ONE, 7(10). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046645