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Am J Gastroenterol. 1997 Oct;92(10):1793-5.

Alfa interferon treatment of hepatitis C virus RNA-positive patients with normal or near-normal alanine aminotransferase levels.

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  • 1Department of Anatomic Pathology, William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan, USA.



Alfa interferon therapy is conventionally offered only to chronic hepatitis C patients with abnormal serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) values. Therapeutic response is traditionally gauged by normalization of liver enzymes. Treatment of patients with persistently normal serum aminotransferases is not routinely done. The purpose of this study was to determine whether standard therapy with alfa interferon can eradicate hepatitis C virus in viremic patients with persistently normal or near-normal serum aminotransferases.


Between 1990 and 1996 we evaluated 565 patients with chronic hepatitis C. Of these, 49 patients (8.7%) (15 men, 34 women) had normal or near-normal ALT levels (less than 1.5 times upper limit of normal) for at least 3 consecutive months. Of these, 15 patients were studied. Treatment consisted of interferon alfa-2b 3 million units thrice weekly for 6 months.


Normal or near normal ALT levels are more common in women than men. All patients completed 6 months of therapy, and 12 patients completed 6 months of posttreatment follow-up. Only one patient lost hepatitis C virus RNA during treatment and viremia reappeared in this patient immediately after cessation of therapy.


Standard antiviral therapy of patients with normal or near-normal ALT levels does not result in sustained viral eradication in most patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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