Iron Reduction as an Adjuvant to Interferon Therapy in Patients With Chronic Hepatitis C Who Have Previously Not Responded to Interferon: A Multicenter, Prospective, Randomized, Controlled Trial.
Hepatology 2000 Jul;32(1):135-138

Di Bisceglie AM, Bonkovsky HL, Chopra S, Flamm S, Reddy RK, Grace N, Killenberg P, Hunt C, Tamburro C, Tavill AS, Ferguson R, Krawitt E, Banner B, Bacon BR Saint Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO.

Hepatic iron concentration has consistently been observed as being directly correlated with the response to interferon therapy in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV). We therefore conducted a randomized, controlled trial comparing iron reduction by phlebotomy with iron reduction followed by retreatment with interferon in 96 patients with chronic hepatitis C who had previously not responded to a course of interferon. During the initial phase when all patients were undergoing phlebotomy, we found that serum alanine transaminase (ALT) activities decreased but by less than 50% from baseline in 67 patients (89%), decreased by more than 50% in 12 patients (13%) and became normal in 9 patients (9%) with no overall change in HCV-RNA levels. Subsequently no patient in either treatment group achieved a sustained virologic response. Improvements in necroinflammatory changes were noted in liver biopsy specimens in those patients receiving phlebotomy plus interferon (mean index 8.59 vs. 7.37, P <.05). A slight but not statistically significant decrease in histologic activity index was noted in those subjects treated by phlebotomy alone (mean index 8.4 vs. 7.75, P not significant). We conclude that, although prior phlebotomy therapy does not improve the rate of sustained response to interferon retreatment, it does result in less liver injury manifested by a decrease in serum transaminase activity and a slight improvement in liver histopathology.

PMID: 10869301