IFNL4 is linked to hepatitis C virus treatment response and type III interferons (IFNs). We studied the functional associations among hepatic expressions of IFNs and IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs), and treatment response to peginterferon and ribavirin. Type I IFNs (IFNA1, IFNB1), type II (IFNG), type III (IFNL1, IFNL2/3), IFNL4 and ISG hepatic expressions were measured by qPCR from in 65 chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients whose IFNL4-associated rs368234815 and IFNL3-associated rs12989760 genotype were determined. There was a robust correlation of hepatic expression within type I and type III IFNs and between type III IFNs and IFNL4 but no correlation between other IFN types. Expression of ISGs correlated with type III IFNs and IFNL4 but not with type I IFNs. Levels of ISGs and IFNL2/3 mRNAs were lower in IFNL3 rs12979860 CC patients compared with non-CC patients, and in treatment responders, compared with nonresponders. IFNL4-ΔG genotype was associated with high ISG levels and nonresponse. Hepatic levels of ISGs in CHC are associated with IFNL2/3 and IFNL4 expression, suggesting that IFNLs, not other types of IFNs, drive ISG expression. Hepatic IFNL2/3 expression is functionally linked to IFNL4 and IFNL3 polymorphisms, potentially explaining the tight association among ISG expression and treatment response.
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