Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with several hepatic and extrahepatic complications, including cancers and autoimmune disorders, whose frequency is reduced but not abolished after drug-induced viral clearance. The causes of these complications and of their persistence are ill-defined. Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are remnants of ancestral infections and constitute 8% of the human genome. Most HERV elements are inactive, but some are transcribed. HERV overexpression is associated with many cancers and autoimmune diseases with a putative pathogenetic role. Several viral infections trigger HERV activation, but there are no studies on HCV-infected subjects. We assessed, through a PCR real-time amplification assay, the transcription levels of the pol genes of HERV-H,-K, and-W, and of their repressor TRIM28 in white blood cells (WBCs) of vertically infected children, both before and after therapy with direct-acting antivirals (DAAs). The results documented significantly higher expressions of HERV-H-pol and HERV-K-pol, not of HERV-W-pol, in HCV-infected subjects as compared to agematched controls. HERV RNA levels remained unchanged after DAA-driven viral clearance. No significant variations in transcription levels of TRIM28 were observed in infected subjects. Our findings demonstrate HERV-H-pol and HERV-K-pol overexpression in subjects with chronic HCV infection, without variations after a positive response to DAAs; this might justify their predisposition to cancers and autoimmune disorders that persist after a DAA-induced resolution of viremia.

Chronic hcv infection is associated with overexpression of human endogenous retroviruses that persists after drug-induced viral clearance

Tovo P. -A.;Garazzino S.;Dapra V.;Alliaudi C.;Calvi C.;Montanari P.;Galliano I.;Bergallo M.
2020

Abstract

Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with several hepatic and extrahepatic complications, including cancers and autoimmune disorders, whose frequency is reduced but not abolished after drug-induced viral clearance. The causes of these complications and of their persistence are ill-defined. Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are remnants of ancestral infections and constitute 8% of the human genome. Most HERV elements are inactive, but some are transcribed. HERV overexpression is associated with many cancers and autoimmune diseases with a putative pathogenetic role. Several viral infections trigger HERV activation, but there are no studies on HCV-infected subjects. We assessed, through a PCR real-time amplification assay, the transcription levels of the pol genes of HERV-H,-K, and-W, and of their repressor TRIM28 in white blood cells (WBCs) of vertically infected children, both before and after therapy with direct-acting antivirals (DAAs). The results documented significantly higher expressions of HERV-H-pol and HERV-K-pol, not of HERV-W-pol, in HCV-infected subjects as compared to agematched controls. HERV RNA levels remained unchanged after DAA-driven viral clearance. No significant variations in transcription levels of TRIM28 were observed in infected subjects. Our findings demonstrate HERV-H-pol and HERV-K-pol overexpression in subjects with chronic HCV infection, without variations after a positive response to DAAs; this might justify their predisposition to cancers and autoimmune disorders that persist after a DAA-induced resolution of viremia.
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Autoimmune diseases; Cancers; Hepatitis C virus infection; Human endogenous retroviruses; Viral clearance
Tovo P.-A.; Garazzino S.; Dapra V.; Alliaudi C.; Silvestro E.; Calvi C.; Montanari P.; Galliano I.; Bergallo M.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/1744301
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