Background & Aims Hepatitis C virus (HCV) modulates host lipid metabolism for its replication and lifecycle. Our aims were to assess changes in the serum lipid and distal (post-squalene) cholesterol biosynthesis metabolite profile of HCV genotypes (GT) 2 and 3 patients treated with sofosbuvir + ribavirin. Methods Serum samples [baseline, treatment week 12, 4 weeks post-treatment] were analyzed for apolipoproteins B and E (apoB/E), total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and 11 post-squalene sterol metabolites using a GC/MS platform. Results We selected 127 patients (GT2 n = 50, GT3 n = 77), 50% cirrhotic patients, and 42% who experienced a virological relapse. At baseline, GT3 patients had lower level of serum lipids, apoB/E, 7-dehydrocholesterol, desmosterol, lathosterol, compared to GT2 (p <0.006). Baseline lathosterol was lower in relapsers with cirrhosis compared to cirrhotic patients with SVR (p = 0.003). From baseline to treatment week 12, serum lipids, apoB/E, and key sterol pathway metabolites (7-dehydrocholesterol, desmosterol, lathosterol, lanosterol) increased in GT3. In contrast, in GT2 patients, apoB/E and dihydrolanosterol decreased with viral suppression (p <0.025). At follow-up week 4, cirrhotic SVR patients showed substantially greater increases in apoB and total sterols compared to cirrhotic relapsers regardless of HCV genotype. After adjustment for genotype and gender, baseline lathosterol was independently associated with virologic response (p = 0.04). Conclusion HCV GT3 is associated with reduced circulation of lipids involved in the distal cholesterol biosynthesis pathway, resulting in relative hypocholesterolemia. HCV suppression during sofosbuvir + ribavirin restores distal sterol metabolites indicating viral interference with de novo lipogenesis or selective retention by hepatocytes.
- Lipid metabolism
ASJC Scopus subject areas