Background: Genetic polymorphism in the epidermal growth factor (EGF, rs4444903) gene has been demonstrated to be associated with the clinical deterioration in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related liver cirrhosis (LC) and the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Whether this single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) influences susceptibility to HCV-related LC and HCC in the Chinese Han population is largely unknown.
Methods: In this case-control study, a total of 187 Chinese Han patients with chronic HCV infection were enrolled, including 62 HCV-related LC patients, 46 HCV-related HCC patients, and 79 chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients without LC and HCC, and the genetic polymorphism was genotyped via a matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) assay. The logistical regression analysis was employed to determine the correlation between the genetic polymorphism and risk of HCV-related LC and HCC.
Results: The distribution of EGF rs4444903 genotypes and alleles significantly differed between LC patients and CHC subjects (p = 0.045, p = 0.043, respectively). Under the recessive model, the GG genotype was significantly associated with a two-fold risk of HCV-related LC compared to the AA+AG genotype after an adjustment for age, gender, body mass index (BMI), duration of HCV infection, and HCV RNA level (OR = 2.188; 95% CI = 1.072 - 4.465; p = 0.031). Significant association was observed as well between the GG genotype and increased HCV-related HCC risk (OR = 3.104; 95% CI = 1.319 - 7.307; p = 0.010).
Conclusions: The EGF rs4444903 GG genotype is associated with higher susceptibility to HCV-related LC and HCC in the Chinese Han population. Screening of host genetic polymorphisms might be helpful in designing effective and efficient LC and HCC surveillance programs for chronic HCV-infected patients.