Hepatitis C virus (HCV) substantially affects lipid metabolism, and remodeling of sphingolipids appears to be essential for HCV persistence in vitro. The aim of the current study is the evaluation of serum sphingolipid variations during acute HCV infection. We enrolled prospectively 60 consecutive patients with acute HCV infection, most of them already infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and serum was collected at the time of diagnosis and longitudinally over a six-month period until initiation of antiviral therapy or confirmed spontaneous clearance. Quantification of serum sphingolipids was performed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Spontaneous clearance was observed in 11 out of 60 patients (18.3%), a sustained viral response (SVR) in 43 out of 45 patients (95.5%) receiving an antiviral treatment after follow-up, whereas persistence of HCV occurred in six out of 60 patients (10%). C24-ceramide (C24-Cer)-levels increased at follow-up in patients with spontaneous HCV eradication (p < 0.01), as compared to baseline. Sphingosine and sphinganine values were significantly upregulated in patients unable to clear HCV over time compared to patients with spontaneous clearance of HCV infection on follow-up (p = 0.013 and 0.006, respectively). In summary, the persistence of HCV after acute infection induces a downregulation of C24Cer and a simultaneous elevation of serum sphingosine and sphinganine concentrations.
Grammatikos, G., Dietz, J., Ferreiros, N., Koch, A., Dultz, G., Bon, D., … Pfeilschifter, J. (2016). Persistence of HCV in acutely-infected patients depletes C24-ceramide and upregulates sphingosine and sphinganine serum levels. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 17(6). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms17060922