Effect of interferon, ribavirin and ursodeoxycholic acid in patients with hepatitis C infection

Predrag Ljubuncic, Fred M. Konikoff, Laurence M. Blendis, Arieh Bomzon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background/Aims: Combination therapy of interferon-alpha (IFNα) and the oral nucleoside analog, ribavirin is the standard treatment for individuals suffering from hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Several studies have shown combination therapy of IFN and antioxidants is therapeutically beneficial in these patients. Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is a hydrophilic bile acid possessing antioxidant properties. This study evaluated the clinical outcome and extent of oxidative stress in a group of non-responding and disease-relapsed HCV patients treated with IFNα, ribavirin and UDCA (triple therapy) for 6 months. Methodology: Twenty patients with chronic HCV disease were treated with triple therapy for six months. During this period, they were monitored for the presence of HCV RNA, standard serum parameters of liver function and the plasma levels of lipid peroxides (LP) and glutathione (GSH) as indices of oxidative stress. The patients were reassessed six months after completion of treatment. Results: During the 6-month treatment period, the health status of the patients improved reflected by falls in the serum activities of alanine and aspartate aminotransferases and γ-glutamyl transpeptidase and an initial lowering of viral (HCV RNA) load. Six months after cessation of treatment, the patients showed biochemical and virological evidence of disease relapse. The elevated plasma LP levels normalized during the treatment period and remained within normal levels 6 months after completion of treatment. Plasma GSH levels fluctuated within the normal range over the 12-month observation period. Conclusions: Treatment of individuals with chronic HCV hepatitis with triple therapy comprising IFNα, ribavirin and UDCA improves the health status, as well as lowering the extent of oxidative stress in these individuals. This treatment regimen also resulted in a sustained lowering of plasma lipid peroxide levels in the face of laboratory evidence of disease relapse. This preliminary study is unable to provide an apt explanation for the persistence of normal plasma LP levels in the face of evidence of disease relapse 6 months after completion of treatment. However, we believe these preliminary findings are sufficiently intriguing to warrant further study. Such investigations should include more patients with assessment of the extent of hepatic fibrosis during and after completion of treatment to determine whether this treatment can modify the natural progress of the disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1191-1196
Number of pages6
Issue number64
StatePublished - Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Hepatitis C
  • Ursodeoxycholic acid


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