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MicroRNA-122 is an important host factor for the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Treatment with RG-101, an N-acetylgalactosamine-conjugated anti-microRNA-122 oligonucleotide, resulted in a significant viral load reduction in patients with chronic HCV infection. Here, we analyzed the effects of RG-101 therapy on antiviral immunity. Thirty-two chronic HCV patients infected with HCV genotypes 1, 3, and 4 received a single subcutaneous administration of RG-101 at 2 mg/kg (n = 14) or 4 mg/kg (n = 14) or received a placebo (n = 2/dosing group). Plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cells were collected at multiple time points, and comprehensive immunological analyses were performed. Following RG-101 administration, HCV RNA declined in all patients (mean decline at week 2, 3.27 log10 IU/mL). At week 8 HCV RNA was undetectable in 15/28 patients. Plasma interferon-γ-induced protein 10 (IP-10) levels declined significantly upon dosing with RG-101. Furthermore, the frequency of natural killer (NK) cells increased, the proportion of NK cells expressing activating receptors normalized, and NK cell interferon-γ production decreased after RG-101 dosing. Functional HCV-specific interferon-γ T-cell responses did not significantly change in patients who had undetectable HCV RNA levels by week 8 post-RG-101 injection. No increase in the magnitude of HCV-specific T-cell responses was observed at later time points, including 3 patients who were HCV RNA-negative 76 weeks postdosing. CONCLUSION: Dosing with RG-101 is associated with a restoration of NK-cell proportions and a decrease of NK cells expressing activation receptors; however, the magnitude and functionality of ex vivo HCV-specific T-cell responses did not increase following RG-101 injection, suggesting that NK cells, but not HCV adaptive immunity, may contribute to HCV viral control following RG-101 therapy. (Hepatology 2017;66:57-68).

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





57 - 68


Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Double-Blind Method, Drug Administration Schedule, Enzyme-Linked Immunospot Assay, Female, Flow Cytometry, Follow-Up Studies, Hepatitis C, Chronic, Humans, Injections, Subcutaneous, Killer Cells, Natural, Male, MicroRNAs, Middle Aged, Molecular Targeted Therapy, Netherlands, Phenotype, T-Lymphocytes, Treatment Outcome