Role of nucleoside transporters SLC28A2/3 and SLC29A1/2 genetics in ribavirin therapy
The standard of hepatitis C antiviral therapy combines pegylated interferon-α with ribavirin. This polar guanosine analog improves the sustained virological response (SVR) rates, but may induce hemolytic anemia. As its pharmacokinetics depend on facilitated transmembrane transport, we assessed whether variants in genes that code for concentrative (concentrative nucleoside transporters 2 and 3 coded by SLC28A2 and SLC28A3, respectively) and equilibrative nucleoside transporters (equilibrative nucleoside transporters 1 and 2 coded by SLC29A1 and SLC29A2, respectively) are associated with the therapy response and side effects. Patients (n=169) chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus genotype 1, treated with standard doses of pegylated interferon-α and weight-based doses of ribavirin for up to 48 weeks, were genotyped for 21 variants in nucleoside transporter genes SLC28A2, SLC28A3, SLC29A1, and SLC29A2, selected to include reported functional variants and to span the complete gene loci. The presence or absence of a SVR (n=169) and a relevant decrease (>3 g/dl, n=115) in blood hemoglobin were associated with the genotypes. The variant SLC28A3 haplotype rs10868138G/rs56350726T (allelic frequency 0.074) was associated with a lower incidence (35.5%) of relevant decreases (>3 g/dl) in blood hemoglobin than in noncarriers (64.3%; P=0.024, n=115). This protection against hemolytic anemia was not associated with decreased SVR rates (n=169). A genetic variant in SCL28A3 coding for the concentrative nucleoside transporter 3 protects patients with chronic hepatitis C against hemolytic anemia without affecting SVR in hepatitis C virus genotype 1.