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Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2000 May;12(5):511-5.

Efficacy of ursodeoxycholic acid in association with alpha-interferon for chronic hepatitis C in alpha-interferon non-responder patients.

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Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, University of Bologna, Italy.



The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of combined treatment with alpha-interferon (alpha-IFN) and ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) on liver function tests and serum HCV-RNA in patients with chronic hepatitis C who had not responded to alpha-IFN alone.


One hundred and three patients (60 men, 43 women, mean age 49 +/- 1.3 years) who had not responded (both HCV-RNA positive and increased serum ALT levels) to 4 consecutive months of treatment with alpha-IFN (3 MU three times weekly) were randomly assigned to receive UDCA (IFN-UDCA, 53 patients, 600 mg/day) in addition to the same alpha-IFN dose, or to continue alpha-IFN alone (IFN-controls, 50 patients). After stopping alpha-IFN, patients who had received UDCA continued to receive UDCA for an additional 6-month period. The two groups were comparable for sex, basal ALT, basal yGT, genotype distribution and liver histology, while mean age was lower in controls (53 +/- 1.8 vs 46 +/- 1.8 years; P< 0.01).


Twenty (38%) out of 53 IFN-UDCA patients had normal ALT, compared with only six (12%) out of 50 IFN-control patients (P < 0.01). HCV-RNA became undetectable in four IFN-UDCA patients. Three months after withdrawal of alpha IFN, 15 IFN-UDCA responders, but none of the IFN-controls, had normal ALT values (P< 0.01); 6 months after withdrawal, nine IFN-UDCA responders still had normal ALT (P= NS) and HCV-RNA was still undetectable in four of them. Portal and periportal inflammation showed a statistically significant improvement (Fisher's exact test P< 0.01) in IFN-UDCA patients as compared with IFN-controls, while no effect was observed on portal fibrosis.


These data demonstrate that UDCA improves the response rate to alpha-IFN. Furthermore, in 8% of IFN-UDCA patients the response rate was sustained and associated with HCV-RNA clearance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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