Background and Aims: Cirrhotic patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection remain at risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) even after the sustained virologic response (SVR). We aimed to evaluate whether the IL28 (rs12979860) single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) may constitute a predisposing genetic factor and to identify the SVR patients at risk of HCC.

Methods: Two hundred patients undergoing DAAs treatment for chronic hepatitis C with advanced fibrosis (F3- F4) were consecutively enrolled. Besides normal routine laboratory testing for HCV, patients’ sera were evaluated also for retinol, retinol-binding protein 4 and the following SNPs: PNPLA3 (rs738409), TM6SF2 (rs58542926), MBOAT7 (rs641738), IL28B (rs12979860), TIMP-1 (rs4898), TIMP-2 (rs8179090), NF-kB promoter (rs28362491). Statistical analyses were conducted using Stata/SE 14.2 statistical software (Stata Corp, College Station, TX).

Results: Almost all patients (197/200) obtained SVR24. Seventeen patients had a previous history of treated HCC before DAAs. Six patients developed HCC recurrence and five patients developed de novo HCC after a mean period of 18 months since EOT. All these patients had SVR. A significant association between IL28B – TT genotype and HCC development after DAAs therapy was observed (OR 4.728, CI 95% 1.222 – 18.297, p=0.024).

Conclusion: IL28B rs12979860 polymorphism was significantly associated with HCC development after DAAs. Assessment of this SNP may better identify patients at risk of developing HCC after treatment. Further prospective studies are required to confirm these hypotheses.


IL28, PNPLA3, Retinol, MBOAT7, TIMP1, TIMP2, viral hepatitis C, hepatocellular carcinoma