OIL28 - Clinical: Interleukin 28B (IL28B) Polymorphism (rs12979860), Saliva

Test Catalog

Test Name

Test ID: OIL28    
Interleukin 28B (IL28B) Polymorphism (rs12979860), Saliva

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Predicting responsiveness of genotype 1 hepatitis C viral infections to combined pegylated-interferon and ribavirin-based therapies in saliva specimens


Genotyping patients who prefer not to have venipuncture done

Testing Algorithm Delineates situations when tests are added to the initial order. This includes reflex and additional tests.


Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Individuals with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 infections have variable responses to treatment with pegylated-interferon and ribavirin combination therapy. Some individuals will respond to treatment with sustained viral response, while other patients have poor response and fail to achieve sustained viral clearance.  


Response to pegylated-interferon and ribavirin combination therapy in HCV genotype 1-infected individuals has been found to be closely associated with a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), designated rs12979860, located 3 kilobases upstream from the interleukin 28B gene locus (IL28B) present on human chromosome 19.


HCV genotype 1-infected individuals with the CC genotype, as compared to either the CT or TT genotypes, of this SNP in IL28B have approximately 2- to 3-fold greater rates of sustained viral response to combined pegylated-interferon and ribavirin therapy.(1) Similar increases in sustained viral response rates were observed across various racial groups, including European Americans (95% CI, 1.8- to 2.3-fold), African Americans (95% CI, 1.9- to 4.7-fold), and Hispanics (95% CI, 1.4- to 3.2-fold).(1) The CC genotype has also been associated with a 3-fold increase in rate of spontaneous clearance of HCV.(2) The SNP in IL28B is only one of many factors that can influence response rates to pegylated-interferon and ribavirin combination therapy in HCV genotype 1 infection, and the SNP genotype result should be interpreted in the context of other clinical factors present in a given patient.


Frequency of the rs12979860 C allele varies across different racial and ethnic groups. The rs12979860 C variant is most frequently present in individuals from East Asia (allele frequency >0.9) and least common in individuals of African origin (allele frequency 0.2-0.5).(2) In a recent US-based study, the favorable CC genotype was observed in 37% of Caucasians, 29% Hispanics, and 14% of African Americans tested.


The mechanism by which the IL28B genotype mediates response to pegylated-interferon and ribavirin combination therapy among HCV genotype 1-infected individuals is not yet understood and is the subject of intense ongoing research. The impact of the IL28B-related polymorphism on response rates in patients infected with HCV genotypes other than genotype 1 is still being investigated.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

An interpretive report will be provided.

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

An interpretative report will be provided.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

Saliva samples may contain donor DNA if obtained from patients who received heterologous blood transfusions or allogeneic blood or marrow transplantation. Results from samples obtained under these circumstances may not accurately reflect the recipient's genotype. For individuals who have received blood transfusions, the genotype usually reverts to that of the recipient within 6 weeks. For individuals who have received allogeneic blood or marrow transplantation, a pretransplant DNA specimen is recommended for testing.


This test does not detect variants other than the single-nucleotide variant of rs12979860 CT.


Drug-drug interactions and drug-metabolite inhibition must be considered.


IL28B is expressed in the liver following hepatitis C virus infection. For liver transplant patients, the IL28B genotype of the recipient and the donor are independent predictors of sustained virologic response with combined pegylated-interferon and ribavirin therapy.(3)


Rare variants exist and could lead to false-negative or false-positive results.

Clinical Reference Recommendations for in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Ge D, Fellay J, Thompson AJ, et al: Genetic variation in IL28B predicts hepatitis C treatment-induced viral clearance. Nature 2009;461:399-401

2. Thomas DL, Thio CL, Martin MP, et al: Genetic variation in IL28B and spontaneous clearance of hepatitis C virus. Nature 2009;461:798-801

3. Chalton MR, Thompson A, Veldt BJ, et al: Interleukin-28B polymorphisms are associated with histological recurrence and treatment response following liver transplantation in patients with hepatitis C virus infection. Hepatology 2011;53:317-324

4. Thompson AJ, Muir AJ, Sulkowski MS, et al: Interleukin-28B polymorphism improves viral kinetics and is the strongest pre-treatment predictor of sustained virologic response in hepatitis C virus-1 patients. Gastroenterology 2010;139:120-129

Special Instructions and Forms Library of PDFs including pertinent information and consent forms, specimen collection and preparation information, test algorithms, and other information pertinent to test