Spontaneous clearance of hepatitis C virus (HCV) occurs in 10-40% of the infections. Specific human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles have been identified in associating with HCV clearance. However, data on the association of HLA with the spontaneous clearance of HCV are scarce in the Chinese population. In the current study we studied the HLA class I and class II genes in 231 Chinese voluntary blood donors who had cleared HCV infection spontaneously compared to 429 subjects with chronic HCV infections. We also studied their IL28B SNP (rs8099917) genotype, since a number of investigators have found a strong association of IL28B with spontaneous or treatment induced HCV clearance. We found that HLA-A∗02:01 and DQB1∗05:02 distributed differently between the two groups after Bonferroni correction (odds ratio [OR] = 1.839, Pc = 0.024 and OR = 0.547, Pc = 0.016, respectively). Multivariate logistic regression analysis suggested that A∗02:01 and DRB1∗11:01 (OR = 1.798, P = 0.008 and OR = 1.921, P = 0.005, respectively) were associated with HCV spontaneous clearance, independent of age, gender and IL28B polymorphism. We concluded that in the Chinese population, HLA-A∗02:01 and DRB1∗11:01 might be associated with the host capacity to clear HCV independent of IL28B, which suggesting that the innate and adaptive immune responses both play an important role in the control of HCV.
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