Interferon alfa (IFN-alpha) is an approved therapeutic agent for chronic hepatitis C. To directly characterize the effects of IFN-alpha in humans, we used microarrays to profile gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from hepatitis C patients treated with IFN-alpha. Seven patients were studied using two strategies: (1) in vivo: PBMCs were collected immediately before the first dose of IFN-alpha, and 3 and 6 hours after the dose; (2) ex vivo: PBMCs that were collected before the first IFN-alpha dose were incubated with IFN-alpha for 3 and 6 hours. The microarray datasets were analyzed with significance analysis of microarrays (SAM) to identify genes regulated by IFN-alpha. We identified 516 named genes up-regulated at least 2-fold, at a false discovery rate (FDR) of less than 1%. In vivo and ex vivo studies generated similar results. No genes were identified as regulated differently between these 2 experimental conditions. The up-regulated genes belonged to a broad range of functional pathways and included multiple genes thought to be involved in the direct antiviral effect of IFN-alpha. Of particular interest, 88 genes directly relating to functions of immune cells were up-regulated, including genes involved in antigen processing and presentation, T-cell activation, lymphocyte trafficking, and effector functions, suggesting that IFN-alpha up-regulates multiple genes involving different aspects of immune responses to enhance immunity against hepatitis C virus. In conclusion, IFN-alpha-inducible genes can be identified in human PBMCs in vivo as well as ex vivo. Signature changes associated with different treatment outcomes may be found among these genes.
View details for DOI 10.1053/jhep.2003.50105
View details for Web of Science ID 000181276800017
View details for PubMedID 12601359