Ask Your Questions About-HCV! of our Hepatitis Experts:

How is histology improved by interferon (IFN)? What is histology & fibrosis? Can I improve my liver despite no viral load reduction?

Hi Dr Chung--

This really is a great site (Natap). Thanks for your previous response to my last question. I hope you don't mind, I have another question.

I am on a 12-month Peg/Riba study to prove and show the benefits in treating people with Hep C/cirhosis. The main goal is to show improved histology i.e.; reduction in staging of fibrosis and outcomes, over one or two years of treatment.

Obviously, I desire to achieve a viral response, but even if there is no response I have been told that they are expecting an improved liver histology. I know it's probably a complex subject for a non- medical individual such as myself. But could you explain briefly how peg/riba can improve the liver without viral clearance?

Many thanks in anticipation,


answer from Dr Chung:

It is thought that among IFN's many effects is also activity against the process of scar formation, called fibrosis. So IFN may actually have an inhibitory effect on fibrosis without necessarily eliminating or even reducing viral counts.

This would be an important feature in someone who already had a lot of scarring, such as yourself. Indeed, there may even be some histologic improvement in those persons who have cirrhosis, which we had always thought of as being unchangeable. This is all very hopeful to us, as we wait for better drugs for HCV. RC Ask our Experts All Questions