Forty patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) were included in an open randomized controlled trial of lymphoblastoid alpha-interferon (L-IFN) versus no treatment.
Twenty patients entered each group, and features of therapy and control cases were similar. L-IFN was given in low doses (1.5-4.5 megaunits) for 1 yr. In 16 of 20 patients treated with L-IFN (80%), but in only one of 20 nontreated cases (0.5%; p < 0.001), amino-transferase activities became normal. In four patients there was a reactivation of the disease during treatment after 4, 5, 6, and 8 months with normal aminotransferase levels. A posttherapy reactivation of hepatitis was observed in four additional cases after 1, 1, 1, and 3 months of follow-up. The other eight patients (40%) continued with normal aminotransferase levels for 1.52 +/- 0.74 (range, 1-2.1) yr after IFN doses were discontinued. In all treated patients except two nonresponders, but in only one of 20 nontreated cases (p < 0.001), Knodell's histological activity index decreased. Procollagen type III aminoterminal peptide levels did not change significantly in nontreated and nonresponder patients, diminished slightly in patients with a transient response, and normalized in cases with a long-standing response, suggesting that this serum test may be a reliable marker for monitoring response to IFN therapy in patients with CHC. Finally, L-IFN treatment induced significant increments in CD4/CD8 index, phytohemagglutinin-induced blastogenesis, and natural killer activity.
This study shows that L-IFN diminish inflammatory and fibrogenic activity in most patients with CHC. In 40% of patients treated in this trial, a long-standing remission of the disease was observed.
CITATION Am J Gastroenterol. 1993 Feb;88(2):233-9
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