Background: Interferon (IFN)-α treatment frequently induces depression, which can impair quality of life and reduce treatment adherence. Defining relevant risk factors for IFN-α-induced depression is essential for designing preventative treatment strategies. Objective: The purpose of the present study was to determine whether promoter polymorphisms of –408C/T, –3C/T and GT repeat dinucleotide microsatellite in the IFN-α/β receptor 1 (IFNAR1) gene are associated with the development of IFN-induced depression. Method: Fifty patients with chronic hepatitis C were treated with pegylated IFN α-2b plus a standard or weight-based dose of ribavirin. Severity of depression was assessed using the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS) at baseline and at 4, 8, 12 and 24 weeks of treatment. Result: The baseline to maximum difference in the SDS index score of neurovegetative/somatic symptoms was higher in patients with the 5/14 genotype of the GT repeat dinucleotide microsatellite polymorphism than in those patients with other genotypes (p = 0.0084). Conclusion: This preliminary result suggests that the promoter GT repeat dinucleotide microsatellite polymorphism of the IFNAR1 gene may represent a risk factor for the development of depressive symptoms during IFN-α therapy for hepatitis C and other conditions.
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