Low IL-27 levels linked to spontaneous HBeAg seroconversion
medwireNews: Interleukin (IL)-27 levels could help identify individuals with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection who are likely to achieve hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) seroconversion in the absence of antiviral treatment, a chart review suggests.
Previous reports have indicated an association between IL-27 and chronic HBV activity and progression, but no studies have examined the relationship between IL-27 and spontaneous HBeAg seroconversion, Man-Fung Yuen, from The University of Hong Kong, and team explain in Liver International.
Their study included 142 Chinese patients with HBeAg-positive HBV, of whom 31% underwent HBeAg seroconversion (defined as the absence of HBeAg and the presence of anti-HBeAg antibodies on at least two consecutive follow-ups 6 months apart) during 3 years of follow-up.
Multivariable analysis showed that baseline IL-27 levels, as assessed in archived serum samples, were an independent predictor of spontaneous HBeAg seroconversion, as were age and HBV DNA levels at presentation.
Specifically, patients with IL-27 levels below 67.3 pg/mL (the average level in this cohort) were significantly more likely to achieve HBeAg seroconversion than patients with higher concentrations, with an adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 3.276 (p=0.015).
This was also the case for individuals younger than 31 years (the mean age of the cohort) and those with baseline HBV DNA levels less than 5 log IU/mL, with corresponding adjusted ORs of 11.022 and 2.311 (p<0.001 and p=0.038, respectively).
None of the three factors individually were strong predictors of spontaneous HBeAg seroconversion at 3 years, but combining them increased the seroconversion rate, such that the 3-year rate rose from an average of 7% for patients who had just one favorable parameter at baseline to 47% for those who had two and 77% for individuals with all three (p=0.029).
The researchers also point out that among patients who achieved HBeAg seroconversion, serum levels of IL-27 significantly correlated with an earlier time to seroconversion (r=0.32, p<0.001).
They believe that combining IL-27 levels with other known indicators could improve the identification of patients unlikely to undergo spontaneous HBeAg seroconversion, “and guide early initiation of antiviral therapy.”
The team acknowledges, however, that “[t]he role of IL-27 in relation to HBeAg seroconversion needs further determination by prospective, serial time point studies.”
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