Plasma levels of the protein IP-10 predict , prior to therapy initiation, the efficacy of treating chronic hepatitis C infection with pegylated-interferon and ribavirin, according to scientists at Inserm and Institut Pasteur. They say that they have developed a prognostic test for hepatitis C based on these results and anticipate commercialization this year.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, was conducted in the research lab of Matthew Albert, Ph.D. Dr. Albert’s team found IP-10 elevated in those patients for whom treatment was ineffective. This observation was paradoxical as IP-10 is considered a pro-inflammatory molecule, which should have facilitated migration of activated T cells to the liver, the exact cell types responsible for viral immunity.
The researchers figured out that IP-10 had been catabolized and a truncated form was present in the HCV patients. This means that the short form of the protein acts as an antagonist and inhibits T-cell recruitment. The investigators thus suggest that the antagonist form of IP-10 is responsible for treatment failures in 50% of patients.