Background: Recently, interleukin-17 (IL-17) cytokine family plays important roles in the host immunity in chronic inflammatory conditions, autoimmune and viral liver diseases. However, studies on the IL-17 role in the immunopathogenesis of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are limited.
Objectives: to assess serum IL-17 levels in chronically HCV infected patients and their relations to the severity of liver disease.
Patients and methods: The study included 200 chronically HCV infected patients; 100 chronic hepatitis C, 100 liver cirrhosis including 35 with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and 30 controls. Serum IL-17 levels were quantified by ELISA.
Results: Serum IL-17 levels were significantly higher in chronically HCV infected patients than controls and cirrhotics had the highest levels (P<0.001). These levels were positively related with inflammation grade and fibrosis stage. Serum IL-17 was significantly higher in HCC than controls. IL-17 was significantly correlated with prothrombin time, ALT, serum albumin, viral load, and alpha fetoprotein-L3.
Conclusion: IL-17 levels were increased with increasing liver disease progression and chronicity. Thus, IL-17 may be an important biological marker for the immunopathogenesis of chronic hepatitis, liver fibrosis and HCC.