Changes in serum lipoprotein profile during interferon therapy in chronic hepatitis C

Am J Gastroenterol. 2001 Aug;96(8):2468-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2001.04055.x.


Objectives: Therapy with a interferon is associated with a rise in serum triglyceride levels, although this effect has not been well studied with newer forms of interferon or interferon in combination with ribavirin.

Methods: Review of combined data obtained from several prospective, randomized controlled clinical trials conducted in the clinical studies unit of a tertiary care referral center among patients with chronic hepatitis C undergoing treatment with various forms of a interferon, with or without the addition of ribavirin. Serum levels of triglycerides and cholesterol were measured before and during therapy. Changes in these levels were correlated with baseline characteristics.

Results: At baseline, the mean serum triglyceride level among 152 patients studied was 130 mg/dL (range 32-620) and was elevated above normal in three patients (2%). During therapy, triglyceride levels rose significantly early on and began to decline spontaneously after 12 wk, returning to baseline after stopping treatment. Triglyceride levels rose above 500 mg/dL in 18 patients (12%) and above 1000 mg/dL in two patients (1.3%) although none experienced acute complications or clinical symptoms. Serum cholesterol levels did not change significantly during therapy (mean at baseline 172 vs 168 mg/dL at 24 wk). Factors correlated with the rise in triglycerides included baseline triglyceride levels, HCV genotype, and the type of interferon used.

Conclusions: Serum triglyceride levels increase consistently in patients with chronic hepatitis C treated with all forms of a interferon, often to very high levels. These changes do not seem to be associated with clinical signs or complications and triglyceride levels decline while patients are still on therapy and return to normal after stopping.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Female
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / blood*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Interferons / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Ribavirin / therapeutic use
  • Triglycerides / blood*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Triglycerides
  • Ribavirin
  • Interferons
  • Cholesterol