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Antiviral Res. 2011 Feb;89(2):156-64. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2010.12.003. Epub 2010 Dec 15.

Interferon plus Chinese herbs are associated with higher sustained virological response than interferon alone in chronic Hepatitis C: a meta-analysis of randomised trials.

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Key Laboratory of Environment and Genes Related to Diseases of Education Ministry, Xi'an Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shaanxi, China.



Traditional Chinese herbal therapies are widely used for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C (CHC) in Asia. The aim of this study was to perform a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing interferon therapies with Chinese herbal therapies and/or interferon plus Chinese herb therapies for the treatment of CHC.


The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Medline, Science Citation Index, EMBASE, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang Database and China Biomedical Database were searched to identify RCTs that evaluated the virological response to interferon therapies, Chinese herbal therapies and interferon plus Chinese herb therapies in CHC patients. We statistically combined data using a random-effect meta-analysis according to the intention-to-treat principle.


The literature search yielded 770 studies, and 26 RCTs comprising 1905 patients matched the selection criteria. Overall, the sustained virological response (SVR) was significantly higher in patients treated with interferon plus Chinese herbs than in patients treated with interferon alone (49% vs 33%, relative risk, 1.52; 95% confidence interval: 1.23-1.89; p<0.05). Combined therapies of interferon plus Chinese herb therapies were also superior to interferon therapies alone in achieving the end-of-treatment viral response (ETVR), and resulted in fewer relapses, fewer adverse events and more rapid alanine transaminase normalisation. Interferon therapies achieved higher ETVR than Chinese herbal therapies, but they yielded a similar SVR.


The current evidence suggests that combined therapies of interferon plus Chinese herbs yielded a higher SVR, and resulted in fewer relapses and fewer adverse events than interferon therapies.

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