Suboptimal SVR rates in African patients with atypical genotype 1 subtypes: Implications for global elimination of hepatitis C.
Childs K., Davis C., Cannon M., Montague S., Filipe A., Tong L., Simmonds P., Smith D., Thomson EC., Dusheiko G., Agarwal K.
BACKGROUND & AIMS: HCV subtypes which are unusual in Europe are more prevalent in the African region, but little is known of their response to direct-acting antivirals (DAAs). These include non-1a/1b/ non-subtypeable genotype 1 (G1) or non-4a/4d (G4). In this report we aimed to describe the genotype distribution and treatment outcome in a south London cohort of African patients. METHODS: We identified all patients born in Africa who attended our clinic from 2010-2018. Information on HCV genotype, treatment regimen and outcome were obtained. Non-subtypeable samples were analysed using Glasgow NimbleGen next-generation sequencing (NGS). Phylogenetic analysis was carried out by generating an uncorrected nucleotide p-distance tree from the complete coding regions of our sequences. RESULTS: Of 91 African patients, 47 (52%) were infected with an unusual subtype. Fourteen novel, as yet undesignated subtypes (G1*), were identified by NGS. Three individuals were infected with the same subtype, now designated as subtype 1p. Baseline sequences were available for 22 patients; 18/22 (82%) had baseline NS5A resistance-associated substitutions (RASs). Sustained virological response (SVR) was achieved in 56/63 (89%) overall, yet only in 21/28 (75%) of those with unusual G1 subtypes, with failure in 3/16 G1*, 1/2 G1p and 3/3 in G1l. Six treatment failures occurred with sofosbuvir/ledipasvir compared to 1 failure on a PI-based regimen. The SVR rate for all other genotypes and subtypes was 35/35 (100%). CONCLUSIONS: Most individuals in an unselected cohort of African patients were infected with an unusual genotype, including novel subtype 1p. The SVR rate of those with unusual G1 subtypes was 75%, raising concern about expansion of DAAs across Africa. Depending on the regimen used, higher failure rates in African cohorts could jeopardise HCV elimination. LAY SUMMARY: Direct-acting antiviral medications are able to cure hepatitis C in the majority of patients. The most common genotype of hepatitis C in Europe and the United States is genotype 1a or 1b and most clinical trials focused on these genotypes. We report that in a group of African patients, most of them had unusual (non-1a/1b) genotype 1 subtypes, and that the cure rate in these unusual genotypes was lower than in genotypes 1a and 1b.