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Correlation between the suppressor of cytokine signaling-1 and 3 and hepatitis B virus: possible roles in the resistance to interferon treatment

Ling-yao Du12, Yao-li Cui12, En-qiang Chen12, Xing Cheng12, Li Liu12 and Hong Tang12*

Author Affiliations

1 Center of Infectious Diseases, West China Hospital of Sichuan University, Chengdu 610041 China

2 Division of Infectious Diseases, State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610041, China

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Virology Journal 2014, 11:51  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-11-51

Published: 17 March 2014



The suppressor of cytokine signaling family (SOCS) is an important negative regulator in the JAK-STAT signaling pathway. This study was designed to explore the correlation between SOCS-1, 2 and 3, Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) and interferon (IFN), and the relationship between SOCS and IFN therapeutic efficacy.


Four types of mouse models were established. Mice were administered with HBV replicative plasmid pHBV4.1 and IFN inducer Poly IC (Group A), pHBV4.1 (Group B), Poly IC (Group C) and saline (Group D), respectively. Liver tissues were harvested from the mice and SOCS expression was determined. Meanwhile, patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) were treated with pegylated interferon α-2b for 24-48 weeks. Liver biopsy was collected and the baseline SOCS expression was determined. Serum assay was performed for efficacy evaluation and correlation analysis.


In animal studies, the expression level of SOCS-1 and 3 was found in the descending order of B, A, C and D. The difference between Group B and D suggested that HBV could induce SOCS. The difference between Group A and C suggested that HBV could still induce SOCS with up-regulated endogenous IFN. The difference between Group C and D suggested that ploy IC could induce SOCS, while the difference between Group B and A suggested that Poly IC might have a stronger inhibition effect for SOCS. There was no difference in SOCS-2 expression. In clinical studies, eight of twenty-four enrolled patients achieved either complete or partial therapeutic response. The expression of both SOCS-1 and 3 was higher in CHB patients than in normal controls. The baseline HBV-DNA level was positively correlated with SOCS-1 and 3. The age, viral genotype, HBVDNA, SOCS-1 and SOCS-3 were found to be related to IFN efficacy.


HBV could induce both SOCS-1 and 3 expression regardless of endogenous IFN level. Elevated IFN could directly up-regulate SOCS-1 and 3 expression, but it could also indirectly down-regulate SOCS-1 and 3 expression by inhibiting HBV replication. HBV might play a more important role in the SOCS up-regulation than IFN, a possible reason why patients with high HBV viral load encounter poor efficacy of IFN treatment.

SOCS; Chronic Hepatitis B; PEG-IFN α-2b