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Hepatogastroenterology. 1999 Mar-Apr;46(26):1094-9.

Interferon treatment in patients with chronic hepatitis C with normal alanine-aminotransferase activity.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Tokyo National Hospital, Japan.



Chronic hepatitis C virus carriers may have repeatedly normal alanine aminotransferase activity despite detectable viremia and histological hepatitis. We aimed to evaluate the effect of interferon treatment in these cases.


Twelve patients with persistently normal alanine aminotransferase levels at least 6 months before therapy were treated with recombinant interferon (IFN)alpha-2b for 6 months, totaling 840 MU in amount. Alanine aminotransferase levels were measured monthly during treatment and after treatment withdrawal, and HCV-RNA levels were measured by polymerase chain reaction before treatment, and 6 and 12 months after treatment withdrawal.


At treatment withdrawal, HCV-RNA levels had significantly decreased and HCV-RNA disappeared in 9 of the 12 patients by polymerase chain reaction. At 6 months after treatment withdrawal, HCV-RNA reappeared in 6 of the 9 patients whose HCV-RNA was negative at treatment withdrawal. Over all, only 4 of the 12 patients (33%) were sustained virological responders (HCV-RNA is negative more than 6 months after treatment withdrawal). Pre-treatment HCV-RNA levels in a sustained virological responder was significantly lower than that of transient and non-responders (4.9 +/- 1.6 vs. 7.7 +/- 1.6 log10[copies/ml], p < 0.05). Of 8 patients who did not achieved sustained virological response, alanine aminotransferase levels had transiently increased above normal during treatment in one patient and after treatment withdrawal in 6 patients; however, in the remaining one patient abnormal values have continued from 8 months after treatment withdrawal till now for 24 months.


In patients with chronic hepatitis C with normal alanine aminotransferase levels, the response to interferon therapy was by no means satisfactory. However, if it would be used in cases with the lower pre-treatment HCV-RNA levels with careful attention to a transient alanine aminotransferase elevation, the more a sustained virological response might be expected.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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