CTLA-4 is involved in the immune dysfunction of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This study analyzed the association of circulating CTLA-4 levels and CTLA4 polymorphisms with disease condition and progression in chronic HBV infection.
Serum CTLA-4 levels and CTLA4 rs231775 and rs5742909 polymorphisms were determined in patients with various HBV-related diseases [53 asymptomatic HBV carrier status (ASC), 147 chronic hepatitis, 130 cirrhosis and 102 HCC] and nearly a 10-year follow-up.
Serum CTLA-4 levels were stepwisely increased from ASC, chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis to HCC and independently associated with HCC (OR 2.628, P < 0.001). HCC patients had lower frequencies of rs231775 genotype GA, genotype AA and allele A than ASC, chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis patients. Rs231775 genotype GG was independently associated with HCC (OR 2.324, P = 0.010) and higher CTLA-4 levels in patients with HBV infection. In the follow-up, higher baseline CTLA-4 levels and CTLA4 rs231775 genotype GG significantly associated with disease progression from chronic hepatitis to cirrhosis (OR 2.561, P = 0.011 and OR 2.799, P = 0.015, respectively) or from cirrhosis to HCC (OR 2.673, P = 0.008 and OR 2.097, P = 0.023, respectively) and with a shorter overall survival in HCC patients (HR 0.317, P = 0.018 and HR 0.682, P = 0.026, respectively). Rs5742909 had no significant association with CTLA-4 levels and disease progression.
CTLA-4 levels and CTLA4 rs231775 polymorphism associate with the disease condition and progression and HCC development in chronic HBV infection and their determination may be used for monitoring disease progression and predicting patient prognosis.

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