The therapeutic goal for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is HBs antigen (HBsAg) seroclearance, which is achieved through 48-week pegylated interferon (Peg-IFN) therapy. This study aimed to identify predictive biomarkers for sustained HBsAg reduction by analyzing serum microRNAs. Twenty-two consecutive chronic HBV infection patients negative for HBe antigen (HBeAg) with HBV-DNA levels <5 log copies/mL, alanine aminotransferase (ALT) <100 U/L, and compensated liver functions, were enrolled. The patients were subcutaneously injected with Peg-IFNα-2a weekly for 48 weeks (treatment period), followed by the 48-week observation period. HBsAg 1-log drop relative to baseline levels recorded at the end of the observation period was considered effective. Sera were obtained at weeks 0 and 24 during the treatment period analyzed for microRNAs. The microRNA (miRNA) antiviral activity was evaluated in vitro using Huh7/sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP) cells. As a result, six patients achieved the HBsAg 1-log drop after the observation periods. Comparison of serum microRNA levels demonstrated that high miR-6126 levels at week 24 predicted HBsAg 1-log drop. Furthermore, miR-6126 reduced HBsAg in culture medium supernatants and intracellular HBV-DNA quantities in Huh7/NTCP cells. In conclusion, high serum miR-6126 levels during Peg-IFN therapy predicted the HBsAg 1-log drop 48 weeks after the completion of therapy. In vitro assays revealed that miR-6126 was able to suppress HBsAg production and HBV replication.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Computer Science Applications
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry