A new type III interferon, IFN lambda 4 (IFNL4), and its single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) ss469415590 causing a frame shift have been recently reported strongly to affect antiviral therapy for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in African and Caucasian populations compared to previously reported IL-28B SNPs rs12979860 and rs8099917. To compare the predictability for treatment outcome among those polymorphisms, we estimated haplotype structure of IFNL4/IL-28B consisting of the three SNPs in 4630 Japanese chronic hepatitis C patients and 1122 healthy controls and then compared their impact on response to pegylated-IFN (PEG-IFN) plus ribavirin (RBV) combined therapy in 903 HCV-1b-infected patients. A total of five haplotypes were identified, although two major haplotypes accounted for >99 % of the variation. The SNPs were tightly linked but not in absolute linkage disequilibrium. We could not find any difference in the predictive impact of any of these three SNPs with regard to susceptibility to HCV and treatment response. However, patients with favourable rs8099917 TT, linked to unfavourable genotypes of ss469415590 and rs12979860, showed poor initial viral response compared with those with all favourable genotypes (P = 0.0022). These findings suggest that, in part, ss469415590 and rs12979860 may have better predictive impact on response to PEG-IFN plus RBV therapy in the Japanese population, especially in patients with any of the minor haplotypes consisting of these SNPs.
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