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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Hepatic microRNA expression is associated with the response to interferon treatment of chronic hepatitis C

Yoshiki Murakami1*, Masami Tanaka2, Hidenori Toyoda3, Katsuyuki Hayashi4, Masahiko Kuroda2, Atsushi Tajima5 and Kunitada Shimotohno6

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Genomic Medicine, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, 53 Shogoinkawahara-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8507, Japan

2 Department of Molecular Pathology, Tokyo Medical University, 6-1-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-8402, Japan

3 Department of Gastroenterology, Ogaki Municipal Hospital, 86-4 Minaminokawa-cho, Ogaki, Gifu 503-8502, Japan

4 DNA Chip Research Inc., 43-1-1 Suehiro-cho, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 230-0045, Japan

5 Department of Molecular Life Science, Tokai University School of Medicine, 143 Shimokasuya, Isehara, Kanagawa 259-1193, Japan

6 Research Institute, Chiba Institute for Technology, 2-17-1 Tsudanuma, Narashino, Chiba 275-0016, Japan

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BMC Medical Genomics 2010, 3:48  doi:10.1186/1755-8794-3-48

Published: 22 October 2010



HCV infection frequently induces chronic liver diseases. The current standard treatment for chronic hepatitis (CH) C combines pegylated interferon (IFN) and ribavirin, and is less than ideal due to undesirable effects. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous small non-coding RNAs that control gene expression by degrading or suppressing the translation of target mRNAs. In this study we administered the standard combination treatment to CHC patients. We then examined their miRNA expression profiles in order to identify the miRNAs that were associated with each patient's drug response.


99 CHC patients with no anti-viral therapy history were enrolled. The expression level of 470 mature miRNAs found their biopsy specimen, obtained prior to the combination therapy, were quantified using microarray analysis. The miRNA expression pattern was classified based on the final virological response to the combination therapy. Monte Carlo Cross Validation (MCCV) was used to validate the outcome of the prediction based on the miRNA expression profile.


We found that the expression level of 9 miRNAs were significantly different in the sustained virological response (SVR) and non-responder (NR) groups. MCCV revealed an accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity of 70.5%, 76.5% and 63.3% in SVR and non-SVR and 70.0%, 67.5%, and 73.7% in relapse (R) and NR, respectively.


The hepatic miRNA expression pattern that exists in CHC patients before combination therapy is associated with their therapeutic outcome. This information can be utilized as a novel biomarker to predict drug response and can also be applied to developing novel anti-viral therapy for CHC patients.