Background & Aims: Interferon-alfa (IFN)-related cytopenias are common and may be dose-limiting. We performed a genome wide association study on a well-characterized genotype 1 HCV cohort to identify genetic determinants of peginterferon-α (pegIFN)-related thrombocytopenia, neutropenia, and leukopenia. Methods: 1604/3070 patients in the IDEAL study consented to genetic testing. Trial inclusion criteria included a platelet (Pl) count ≥80 × 10 9/L and an absolute neutrophil count (ANC) ≥1500/mm 3. Samples were genotyped using the Illumina Human610-quad BeadChip. The primary analyses focused on the genetic determinants of quantitative change in cell counts (Pl, ANC, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils) at week 4 in patients >80% adherent to therapy (n = 1294). Results: 6 SNPs on chromosome 20 were positively associated with Pl reduction (top SNP rs965469, p = 10 -10). These tag SNPs are in high linkage disequilibrium with 2 functional variants in the ITPA gene, rs1127354 and rs7270101, that cause ITPase deficiency and protect against ribavirin (RBV)-induced hemolytic anemia (HA). rs1127354 and rs7270101 showed strong independent associations with Pl reduction (p = 10 -12, p = 10 -7) and entirely explained the genome-wide significant associations. We believe this is an example of an indirect genetic association due to a reactive thrombocytosis to RBV-induced anemia: Hb decline was inversely correlated with Pl reduction (r = -0.28, p = 10 -17) and Hb change largely attenuated the association between the ITPA variants and Pl reduction in regression models. No common genetic variants were associated with pegIFN-induced neutropenia or leucopenia. Conclusions: Two ITPA variants were associated with thrombocytopenia; this was largely explained by a thrombocytotic response to RBV-induced HA attenuating IFN-related thrombocytopenia. No genetic determinants of pegIFN-induced neutropenia were identified.
- Hepatitis C
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