Resistance-associated variant (RAV) is one of the most significant clinical challenges in treating HCV-infected patients with direct-acting antivirals (DAAs). We investigated the viral dynamics in patients receiving DAAs using third-generation sequencing technology. Among 283 patients with genotype-1b HCV receiving daclatasvir?+?asunaprevir (DCV/ASV), 32 (11.3%) failed to achieve sustained virological response (SVR). Conventional ultra-deep sequencing of HCV genome was performed in 104 patients (32 non-SVR, 72 SVR), and detected representative RAVs in all non-SVR patients at baseline, including Y93H in 28 (87.5%). Long contiguous sequences spanning NS3 to NS5A regions of each viral clone in 12 sera from 6 representative non-SVR patients were determined by third-generation sequencing, and showed the concurrent presence of several synonymous mutations linked to resistance-associated substitutions in a subpopulation of pre-existing RAVs and dominant isolates at treatment failure. Phylogenetic analyses revealed close genetic distances between pre-existing RAVs and dominant RAVs at treatment failure. In addition, multiple drug-resistant mutations developed on pre-existing RAVs after DCV/ASV in all non-SVR cases. In conclusion, multi-drug resistant viral clones at treatment failure certainly originated from a subpopulation of pre-existing RAVs in HCV-infected patients. Those RAVs were selected for and became dominant with the acquisition of multiple resistance-associated substitutions under DAA treatment pressure.
Journal: Scientific reports