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Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2003 Nov;73(6):411-5.

Pilot clinical trial of the use of alpha-tocopherol for the prevention of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with liver cirrhosis.

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First Department of Internal Medicine, Gunma University Faculty of Medicine, 3-39-15, Showa Machi Maebashi, 371-8511, Japan.


Patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection often develop liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The purpose of this study was to test the chemopreventive effect of alpha-tocopherol on hepatocarcinogenesis in patients with liver cirrhosis and a history of HCV infection. Eighty-three patients with liver cirrhosis and with positive history of HCV infection were divided at random into two groups. Forty-four patients were treated with alpha-tocopherol (Vit E group) while the other 39 were followed as controls. The clinical background (gender, age, and laboratory data) was similar in the two groups. Serum levels of alpha-tocopherol, albumin, alanine aminotransferase (ALT), and total cholesterol and platelet count were measured serially over a period of five years. The mean serum concentration of alpha-tocopherol was low in both groups at entry and was significantly higher in the Vit E group than in the control group one month after treatment. Platelet count, serum albumin, ALT, and total cholesterol were not different between the two groups during the five-year period. Cumulative tumor-free survival and cumulative survival rate tended to be higher in the Vit E group than in controls, albeit statistically insignificant. The serum level of alpha-tocopherol was low in patients with liver cirrhosis and positive for HCV. Although the administration of alpha-tocopherol normalized the level one month later, it could neither improve liver function, suppress hepatocarcinogenesis, nor improve cumulative survival. Patients treated with alpha-tocopherol tended to live longer without development of HCC but the difference was not statistically significant.

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