Cannabinoid receptor 2-63 RR variant is independently associated with severe necroinflammation in HIV/HCV coinfected patients

C Sagnelli, C Uberti-Foppa, H Hasson, G Bellini, C Minichini, Stefania Salpietro, Emanuela Messina, D Barbanotti, Marco Merli, F Punzo, Nicola Coppola, A Lazzarin, Evangelista Sagnelli, F Rossi

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Objective: This is the first study to analyze the impact of the rs35761398 variant of the CNR2 gene leading to the substitution of GLN (Q) of codon 63 of the cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) with ARG (R) on the clinical presentation of chronic hepatitis in HIV/HCV coinfected patients. Methods: Enrolled in this study were 166 consecutive HIV/HCV coinfected patients, naïve for HCV treatment. A pathologist unaware of the patients’ condition graded liver fibrosis, necroinflammation (Ishak) and steatosis. All patients were screened for the CB2 rs35761398 polymorphism. Results: Of the 166 HIV/HCV coinfected patients, 72.9% were males, 42.5% were infected with HCV-genotype-3 and 60.2% had been intravenous drug users. The median age was 40.6 years and the immunological condition good (median CD4 + cells/mm 3 = 507, IQR: 398.0–669.5). Thirty-five (21.1%) patients were naive for ART and 131(78.9%) were on ART. The CB2-RR variant was detected in 45.8% of patients, QR in 38.6% and QQ in 15.7%. Patients with CB2-RR showed a necroinflammation score (HAI) ≥9 more frequently than those with CB2-QQ or CB2-QR (32.9% vs. 11.5% and 14.1%, respectively, p≤0.001). In the multivariate analysis, the CB2-RR variant (p = 0.03) and liver fibrosis were both identified as independent predictors of the entity of liver necroinflammation (p = 0.0001). Conclusion: This study shows interesting interplay between the CB2-RR variant and liver necroinflammation in chronic hepatitis patients with HIV/HCV coinfection, an observation of clinical value that coincides with the interest in the use of the CB2 agonists and antagonists in clinical practice emerging from the literature. © 2017 Sagnelli et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0181890
JournalPLoS One
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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