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Clin Exp Rheumatol. 1997 Jul-Aug;15(4):415-9.

Development of arthritis and hypothyroidism during alpha-interferon therapy for chronic hepatitis C.

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I Cattedra di Reumatologia, Policlinico Universitario di Cagliari, Italy.


Alpha-interferon (alpha-IFN) therapy may induce, reveal or exacerbate various autoimmune-related disorders. The most common is the development of autoantibodies, while clinically overt autoimmune diseases are rare. We describe a 49-year-old woman who developed seronegative rheumatoid-like arthritis and autoimmune hypothyroidism after 7 months of human lymphoblastoid alpha-IFN therapy given for hepatitis C virus-related chronic active hepatitis (CAH-HCV). There was no family or personal history of autoimmune, thyroid or articular diseases. Our patient required continuous therapy for arthritis and hypothyroidism despite discontinuation of alpha-IFN. This suggests that alpha-IFN therapy may induce the contemporary appearance of two different persistent autoimmune-related diseases in the same patient. However, chronic HCV infection may play an important adjuvant role in the development of these diseases.

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