Clinical Trial
Controlled Clinical Trial
Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Zinc supplementation enhances the response to interferon therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis C.

We evaluated the synergistic effect of zinc supplementation on the response to interferon (IFN) therapy in patients with intractable chronic hepatitis C in a pilot study using natural IFN-alpha with or without zinc. No clinical differences were observed between patients treated with IFN alone (n=40) and IFN with polaprezinc (IFN + Zn, n=35). All patients were positive for HCV genotype Ib and had more than 105 copies of the virus/mL serum. Ten million units of natural IFN-alpha was administered daily for 4 weeks followed by the same dose every other day for 20 weeks. In the IFN + Zn group, patients received an additional dose of 150 mg/day polaprezinc orally throughout the 24-week IFN course. No additional side-effects of polaprezinc were noted but four out of 40 IFN alone treatment and three out of 35 IFN + Zn group withdrew because of side-effects. Complete response (CR) was defined as negative HCV RNA in the serum on PCR and normal aminotransferase level 6 months after therapy. Incomplete response (IR) was normal liver enzyme and positive serum HCV RNA. Both of them were evaluated at the 6 months after the completion of the treatment. Patients with higher levels of serum HCV (more than 5 x 105 copies/mL) had little response in both treatment groups. Patients with moderate amount of HCV (105 to 4.99 x 105/mL) showed high response rates in combination group (CR: 11/27, 40.7%; CR + IR 15/27, 64.3%), better than IFN alone (CR: 2/15, 18.2%; CR + IR: 2/15, 18.2%). Serum zinc levels were higher in patients with IFN + Zn group than in the IFN group. Our results indicate that zinc supplementation enhances the response to interferon therapy in patients with intractable chronic hepatitis C.

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