Palanisamy N, Danielsson A, Kokkula C, Yin H, Bondeson K, Wesslén L, Duberg AS, Lennerstrand J
Antiviral Res. 99 (1) 12-17 [2013-07-00; online 2013-05-08]
The future interferon-free treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection could include NS3 protease inhibitors (PIs) for potent pan-genotypic effect. We studied the prevalence of pre-existing PI resistance associated amino acid variants (RAVs) in 126 treatment-naive patient samples of HCV genotypes 1a, 2b and 3a, the most common genotypes in Sweden. The NS3 genes were each amplified by nested PCR method with degenerated primers to enable a broad genotype analysis. Population sequencing method was used, and the sequences were aligned with the NS3 sequence from HCV genotype 1a H77 strain. Interpretation of fold-change resistance to NS3 candidate drugs were done from already published phenotypic resistance data. The prevalence of known PI RAVs at baseline in genotype 1a was 28% (15/53), either single (V36L or Q80K/R) or combinations (T54A/S and V55A/I) of mutation(s). In genotype 2b, specific mutations like V36L, Q80G and S122R of viral NS3 protease gene were found in 100% (11/11). These may be the natural polymorphisms unique to genotype 2b. Similarly, specific mutations like V36L and D168Q were found uniquely in all 3a samples (30/30). The natural PI RAVs found in genotype 1a, although with relatively weak resistance, could still render up to 10-fold-resistance to the approved (boceprevir and telaprevir) and the 2nd generation PIs (faldaprevir and simeprevir). Moreover, the natural polymorphisms in genotype 2b (i.e. S122R) and 3a (i.e. D168Q), with inherent PI drug resistance of up to 20 and 700 fold respectively, would explain why current PIs are primarily directed against genotype 1.