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Am J Gastroenterol. 1996 Feb;91(2):319-27.

Cold activation of complement for monitoring the response to interferon in patients with chronic hepatitis C.

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First Department of Internal Medicine, Yamanashi Medical University, Japan.



Because of its specific association with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, the cold activation of complement is an easy and inexpensive indicator of HCV viremia. It was evaluated for eligibility as a marker of response to interferon in patients with hepatitis C.


The cold activation of complement was determined by the loss or decrease of hemolytic activity with the microtitration method in sera that had been stored at 4 degrees C overnight.


We observed the loss of hemolytic activity by the cold activation of complement in 236 (72%) and a decrease in 56 (17%) of 327 sera from patients with HCV-associated chronic liver disease, which was much more (p < 0.001) that in 1 (1%) and 13 (14%), respectively, of 49 sera from patients with chronic liver disease associated with hepatitis B virus infection. Interferon-alpha (total dose 516 x 10(6) units) or interferon-alpha 2b (774 x 10(6) units) was given to 67 patients with chronic hepatitis C, of whom 56 had the cold activation of complement. The response to interferon was evaluated by the clearance of serum HCV RNA at 6 months after the completion of therapy. The cold activation of complement disappeared in 18 patients, of whom 15 (86%) responded. It persisted or fluctuated in the remaining 38 patients, only six (16%) of whom responded to interferon (p < 0.001). The cold activation of complement once disappeared at the completion of interferon and then reappeared in patients who relapsed after completing interferon therapy.


These results indicate that the cold activation of complement may be associated with the presence of HCV in blood and a lower rate of durable response after completion of interferon therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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