Assessment of specific antibodies to F protein in serum samples from Chinese hepatitis C patients treated with interferon plus ribavarin

De Yong Gao, Xin Xin Zhang, Gang Hou, Gen Di Jin, Qiang Deng, Xiao Fei Kong, Dong Hua Zhang, Yun Ling, De Min Yu, Qi Ming Gong, Qin Zhan, Bi Lian Yao, Zhi Meng Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The hepatitis C virus (HCV) alternate reading frame protein or F protein of the HCV 1b genotype is a double-frameshift product of the HCV core protein. In order to assess the presence of antibodies specific for F protein and their clinical relevance in sera from HCV patients, we produced recombinant F protein and core protein of the HCV 1b genotype in Escherichia coli. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was developed using purified recombinant HCV core, F protein, and a 99-residue synthetic F peptide (F99). The seroprevalences of anticore, anti-F protein, and anti-F99 synthetic peptide were 95%, 68%, and 36%, respectively, in 168 HCV patients. The prevalence of anti-F antibodies did not correlate with viral load, genotype, or alanine aminotransferase level. Interferon combination therapy induced a decline in the level of anti-F antibodies in 55 responders (P < 0.01). Thirteen responders (24%) lost their anti-F recombinant protein antibodies, and 17 (31%) lost their anti-F synthetic peptide antibodies, whereas no decrease was observed for the 17 nonresponders. These changes were significant between responders and nonresponders (P < 0.05). Meanwhile, no change was found in the anticore antibody titer of the 72 treated patients. The percentage of anti-F-protein-negative patients (15/15 [100%]) who achieved a sustained virological response (SVR) was higher than that of the anti-F-positive patients (70%) (P < 0.05). Based on these findings, HCV F protein elicits a specific antibody response other than the anticore protein response. Our data also suggest that the presence and level of anti-F antibody responses might be influenced by the treatment (interferon plus ribavirin) and associated with an SVR in Chinese hepatitis C patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3746-3751
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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