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Epidemiol Psichiatr Soc. 2005 Jul-Sep;14(3):145-53.

[Interferon-alpha-induced psychiatric side effects in patients with chronic viral hepatitis: a prospective, observational, controlled study].

[Article in Italian]

Author information

  • 1Clinica Psichiatrica, Università degli Studi di Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy.



Patients with chronic viral hepatitis suffer from a high prevalence of psychiatric problems. Furthermore, the treatment for chronic viral hepatitis, with interferon (IFN) alpha, induces the occurrence of further psychopathological symptoms. The authors examined whether patients with a pre-existing psychiatric diagnosis had more severe IFN alpha-induced psychiatric adverse effects, and whether they were more likely to interrupt the IFN alpha therapy, compared with control patients with no pre-existing psychiatric diagnosis. They also examined the psychopharmacological management of the interferon-alpha-induced psychiatric side effects.


The authors studied prospectively 60 patients with chronic hepatitis B or C in Cagliari, Italy. Patients underwent psychiatric assessment before starting interferon alpha and monthly throughout the therapy.


After adjusting for the baseline psychopathology, there was no statistically significant difference in interferon-alpha-induced psychiatric adverse effects between patients with a pre-existing psychiatric diagnosis and controls. There was also no evidence that psychiatric cases were more likely than controls to interrupt the IFN alpha therapy because of psychiatric side effects. Moreover, there was no difference in the psychiatric adverse effects severe enough to require psychopharmacological treatment. Finally, psychopharmacological management successfully treated psychiatric symptoms induced by the IFN alpha.


Patients with a pre-existing psychiatric diagnosis do not have a specific vulnerability to interferon-alpha-induced psychiatric adverse effects.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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