Despite the use of pegylated-interferon (peg-IFN) plus ribavirin combination therapy, many patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV)-1b remain HCV-positive. To determine whether addition of pitavastatin and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is beneficial, the "add-on" therapy option (add-on group) was compared retrospectively with unmodified peg-IFN/ribavirin therapy (standard group). Association of host- or virus-related factors with sustained virological response was assessed. In HCV replicon cells, the effects of pitavastatin and/or EPA on HCV replication and expression of innate-immunity- and lipid-metabolism-associated genes were investigated. In patients infected with HCV-1b, sustained virological response rates were significantly higher in the add-on than standard group. In both groups, sustained virological response rates were significantly higher in patients with genotype TT of IL-28B (rs8099917) than in those with non-TT genotype. Among the patients with non-TT genotype, sustained virological response rates were markedly higher in the add-on than standard group. By multivariate analysis, genome variation of IL28B but not add-on therapy remained as a predictive factor of sustained virological response. In replicon cells, pitavastatin and EPA suppressed HCV replication. Activation of innate immunity was obvious in pitavastatin-treated cells and EPA suppressed the expression of sterol regulatory element binding protein-1c and low-density lipoprotein receptor. Addition of pitavastatin and EPA to peg-IFN/ribavirin treatment improved sustained virological response in patients infected with HCV-1b. Genotype variation of IL-28B is a strong predictive factor in add-on therapy. J. Med. Virol. 85:250-260, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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