Interferon gamma-1b for the treatment of fibrosis in chronic hepatitis C infection.
Given that the complications of hepatitis C are due to fibrosis, we hypothesized that the antifibrotic effects of interferon gamma on stellate cells would lead to beneficial effects in patients with hepatitis C. Thus, we evaluated the safety and efficacy of interferon gamma-1b in patients with hepatitis C. A cohort of 20 patients with chronic hepatitis C who failed or were intolerant to previous interferon-alpha-based regimens received 200 mug of interferon gamma-1b subcutaneously three times weekly for 24 weeks. Liver biopsy was performed prior to and at the end of treatment. Biopsies were evaluated by a single blinded pathologist using the Knodell system modified by Ishak, and fibrosis was also quantitated by morphometric analysis. The study population was 75% male and 70% Caucasian. Mean age was 47.9 +/- 7.5 years. Eighteen of 20 patients completed therapy. One patient discontinued therapy because of constitutional symptoms. One patient discontinued therapy because of elevated aminotransferases greater than twice baseline. No serious adverse events occurred. Morphometric analysis revealed that six patients (30%) had >1% absolute reduction in fibrosis score. Four of 20 (20%) patients had improvement in Ishak fibrosis scores after treatment. In conclusion, interferon gamma therapy is safe and well tolerated in patients with chronic hepatitis C. Although we did not detect an overall reduction in fibrosis, interferon gamma-1b treatment led to a reduction in fibrosis in selected patients. These data provide a basis for further study of interferon gamma-1b in patients with chronic fibrosing liver disease.
Muir, AJ; Sylvestre, PB; Rockey, DC
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