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Gastroenterology. 1994 Jul;107(1):196-9.

Short-term prednisone therapy affects aminotransferase activity and hepatitis C virus RNA levels in chronic hepatitis C.



The effects of corticosteroids on chronic hepatitis B have provided insight into the mechanism of liver cell injury caused by hepatitis B. In this study, this model was applied to investigate the effects of prednisone on alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA levels in chronic hepatitis C.


Ten patients with chronic hepatitis C who had increased levels of ALT and HCV RNA detectable in serum were given a 7-week course of a tapering dose of prednisone. Quantitation of serum HCV RNA was determined by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and by branched-chain DNA amplification.


ALT levels decreased in 8 of 10 patients during therapy. Mean ALT levels of all 10 patients decreased from 184 to 84 U/L (P = 0.002) and then rebounded in 7 of the 8 patients after discontinuation of prednisone. HCV RNA was detectable by the branched DNA technique in 9 of 10 patients. These values increased in all 9 patients during prednisone therapy. The mean serum HCV RNA levels increased from 40.9 before treatment to 414.3 Eq/mL x 10(5) during treatment (P = 0.043). Using PCR, HCV RNA titers increased one log-fold in 8 of 10 patients (geometric mean of 1:4420 to 1:23410). HCV RNA levels decreased to pretreatment values within a mean of 2.8 weeks (range, 1-5) after discontinuation of prednisone.


These responses in ALT and HCV RNA suggest the participation of an immune-mediated mechanism in the liver cell injury in chronic hepatitis C.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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