The role of hepatic progenitor cells in predicting response to therapy in Egyptian patients with chronic hepatitis C, genotype 4
Background: Interferon therapy is used as a line of treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) in several areas of the world including Egypt.
Objective: Our aim was to investigate the value of hepatic progenitor cells (HPCs) in predicting response of patients with chronic HCV, genotype 4 to pegylated interferon (PEGIFN) plus ribavirin (RBV) therapy.
Methods: Pre-treatment liver biopsies obtained from 110 patients with chronic HCV, genotype 4 were examined immunohisto- chemically for HPCs using cytokeratin19. The mean number of HPCs as ductular reaction (DR) and as isolated progenitor cells (IPCs) was counted in each case. The patients were classified into: those with sustained virological response (SVR) and those who did not achieve SVR. The results were compared between the two groups. Also, the relationships between HPCs and other clinico-pathologic variables were estimated using multivariate analysis.
Results: The mean number of HPCs was the only independent predictor of therapeutic response, being significantly higher in non-responders (P = 0 for DR and P = 0.03 for IPCs). On the other hand, fibrosis stage and steatosis were the only independent factors which showed a significant direct association with the mean number of HPCs in the form of DR and IPCs (P = 0 for each).
Conclusion: The number of HPCs provides prognostic information in chronic HCV since it is significantly associated with stage of fibrosis. More importantly, it can be used as a marker to predict response of patients with chronic HCV to PEGIFN plus RBV therapy.
Keywords: Chronic hepatitis C, genotype 4, response to therapy, hepatic progenitor cells.