Background: The efficacy of pegylated interferon-α and ribavirin (pegIFN/RBV) in the treatment of Hepatitis C infection is limited by psychiatric adverse effects (IFN-PE). Our study examined the ability of differential gene expression patterns before therapy to predict emergent IFN-PE among 28 HIV/HCV-coinfected patients treated with pegIFN-α2b/RBV.
Methods: Patients dually infected with HIV and HCV were evaluated at baseline and during treatment by board-certified psychiatrists who classified patients into 2 groups: those who developed IFN-PE and those who did not (IFN-NPE). Gene expression analysis (Affymetrix HG-U133A) was performed using peripheral blood mononuclear cells before and after initiation of treatment. Analysis of Variance, post hoc analysis based on pair-wise comparisons, and functional annotation analysis identified differentially expressed genes within and between groups. Prediction analysis for microarrays was used to test the predictive ability of selected genes.
Results: Twenty-four genes (16 upregulated and 8 downregulated) that were differentially expressed at baseline in patients who subsequently developed IFN-PE compared with the IFN-NPE group showed the ability to predict IFN-PE with an accuracy of 82%. In 16 patients with IFN-PE, 135 genes (117 upregulated; 18 downregulated) were significantly modulated after treatment. Of these, 10 genes have already been shown to be associated with neuropsychiatric illnesses and were significantly modulated only in patients who experienced IFN-PE.
Conclusions: We describe a novel molecular diagnostic biomarker panel to predict emergent IFN-PE in HIV/HCV-coinfected patients undergoing pegIFN/RBV treatment, which may improve the identification of patients at greatest risk for IFN-PE and suggest candidate therapeutic targets for preventing or treating IFN-PE.