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J Lab Clin Med. 2001 Jan;137(1):38-42.

Islet cell and thyroid antibody prevalence in patients with hepatitis C virus infection: effect of treatment with interferon.

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Department of Endocrinology, Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona, Spain.


An increased prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in patients with diabetes and a higher prevalence of diabetes in HCV-infected patients have been reported. However, the relationship between these two conditions remains controversial. In addition, although the effect of interferon treatment on thyroid autoimmunity has been extensively reported, its influence on beta-cell autoantibodies has not been investigated. The aims of the study were (1) to evaluate whether autoimmune beta-cell damage could be involved in the development of diabetes mellitus in HCV-infected patients and (2) to determine whether interferon treatment influences the appearance of beta-cell and thyroid autoantibodies. The prevalence of islet cell autoantibodies (glutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies [GADAs], tyrosine phosphatase antibodies [IA-2s], islet cell antibodies [ICAs]) was assessed in 303 non-selected HCV-infected patients (277 non-diabetic and 26 type 2 diabetic patients) and in 273 sex- and age-matched control subjects. ICAs and thyroid autoantibodies were also determined before and 6 and 12 months after treatment with interferon for 24 weeks in a subgroup of 46 HCV-infected patients. GADAs were detected in 4 of 277 (1.4%) HCV-infected non-diabetic patients, 1 of 273 (0.3%) control subjects, and 0 of 26 (0%) HCV-infected patients with diabetes. Anti-IA2s and ICAs were negative in all subjects. Both GADAs and anti-IA2s were negative in all HCV-infected patients treated with interferon. After therapy, only thyroid antibodies became positive in 5 of 46 (10.9%) treated patients, disappearing in all but 1 of these at the 12-month follow-up. Our results suggest that beta-cell autoimmunity is not associated with HCV infection, thus making it unlikely that the increased diabetes mellitus prevalence among HCV-infected patients could be mediated by autoimmune mechanisms. In addition, interferon treatment induces a transient increase in thyroid autoantibodies but does not influence the appearance of beta-cell autoantibodies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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