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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Jun 1;25(11):1293-300.

Incidence and characterization of serum transaminases elevations in pegylated interferon and ribavirin treated patients with chronic hepatitis C.

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The Liver Unit, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, University Hospital of Birmingham NHS Trust, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK.



A virological response to pegylated-interferon and ribavirin is typically associated with a prompt fall in serum transaminases. For some patients, transaminases rise during treatment.


To assess the frequency and define factors associated with elevations of serum transaminases.


A total of 169 treated patients were studied. Transaminase elevations were graded by WHO criteria - grade 0: no value > baseline, grade 1: 1-2x baseline, grade 2: 2.1-5x baseline, grade 3: >5x, grade 4: any rise with evidence of liver failure. Results 60/169 (35%) patients experienced transaminase elevations: 52 grade 1, 6 grade 2, 1 grade 3, 1 grade 4. Overall, end of treatment response and sustained virological response rates were 72% and 55%. Lower rates were observed in the grade 1 elevation group (63% and 40%) compared with patients with grade 0 (79% and 65%) and grade > or =2 elevations (85% and 71%). Grade 1 elevations tended to occur earlier during treatment than grade > or =2 elevations. Transaminase elevations were associated with greater pre-treatment body weight (P = 0.006), steatosis (P = 0.008) and poorer sustained virological response rates (P = 0.007).


Transaminase elevations during treatment of chronic Hepatitis C virus with pegylated interferon and ribavirin are common but rarely severe. Mild rises may reflect ongoing viral activity in treatment non-responders. More significant rises are frequently observed despite a virological response, and may be because of an immuno-modulating effect of interferon in susceptible patients.

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