Elimination strategies of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection aim to optimize the high antiviral potency of direct acting antivirals (DAAs). Sphingolipids (SLs) constitute bioactive lipid compounds with a remarkable second messenger potential. SL levels associate with responsiveness to interferon treatment in HCV-patients, thus prompting the question whether failure to DAAs can be predicted by the serologic sphingolipodomic profile. Liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) was used to retrospectively quantify various sphingolipid metabolites in baseline serum samples of 97 chronic HCV patients with DAA-failure compared to an age-matched cohort of 95 HCV-patients with sustained virological response (SVR). Sphingosine, sphinganine, sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) and sphinganine-1-phosphate (SA1P) serum concentrations were significantly upregulated at baseline in patients with DAA-failure compared to patients with SVR. Similarly, GluC24:1Cer baseline levels were significantly upregulated in patients with DAA-failure compared to the patients with SVR. However, GluC18Cer serum levels showed decreased baseline levels for patients with DAA-failure compared to patients with SVR. In multivariate analysis sphinganine (OR 0.08494, CI 0.07393 – 0.9759, P = 0.021223), SA1P (OR 0.9818, CI 0.9653 – 0.9987, P = 0.034801), GluCerC18 (OR 1.0683, CI 1.0297 – 1.1104, P = 0.000786) and GluCer24:1 (OR 0.9961, CI 0.994 – 0.998, P = 0.000294) constituted independent predictors of treatment response. In conclusion, serum sphingolipid concentrations, in particular sphingosine, sphinganine and their derivatives S1P and SA1P as well as glucosylceramides may identify at baseline the minority of HCV patients with DAA-failure. Serum sphingolipids could constitute additional biomarkers for national treatment strategies aiming to eliminate HCV infection.
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