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Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection via Antioxidants: Results of a Phase I Clinical Trial.

Background: The pathogenesis of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with a defective host antiviral immune response and intrahepatic oxidative stress. Oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation play major roles in the fatty liver accumulation (steatosis) that leads to necro-inflammation and necrosis of hepatic cells. Previous trials suggested that antioxidative therapy may have a beneficial effect on patients with chronic HCV infection.
 
Aims: To determine the safety and efficacy of treatment of chronic HCV patients via a combination of antioxidants.
 
Methods: Fifty chronic HCV patients were treated orally on a daily basis for 20 weeks with seven antioxidative oral preparations (glycyrrhizin, schisandra, silymarin, ascorbic acid, lipoic acid, L-glutathione, and alpha-tocopherol), along with four different intravenous preparations (glycyrrhizin, ascorbic acid, L-glutathione, B-complex) twice weekly for the first 10 weeks, and followed up for an additional 20 weeks. Patients were monitored for HCV-RNA levels, liver enzymes, and liver histology. Assessment of quality of life was performed using the SF-36 questionnaire.
 
Results: In one of the tested parameters (eg, liver enzymes, HCV RNA levels, or liver biopsy score), a combination of antioxidants induced a favorable response in 48% of the patients (24). Normalization of liver enzymes occurred in 44% of patients who had elevated pretreatment ALT levels (15 of 34). ALT levels remained normal throughout follow-up period in 72.7% (8 of 11). A decrease in viral load (one log or more) was observed in 25% of the patients (12). Histologic improvement (2-point reduction in the HAI score) was noted in 36.1% of the patients. The SF-36 score improved in 26 of 45 patients throughout the course of the trial (58% of the patients). Treatment was well tolerated by all patients. No major adverse reactions were noted.
 
Conclusions: These data suggest that multi antioxidative treatment in chronic HCV patients is well tolerated and may have a beneficial effect on necro-inflammatory variables. A combination of antiviral and antioxidative therapies may enhance the overall response rate of these patients.
Published on 06-02-2008