Background: Elevated serum levels of aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) reflect hepatocellular injury in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV). Increased apoptosis and activated caspases are present in these patients. PF-03491390 inhibits multiple caspases and lowers serum AST and ALT levels in patients with chronic liver diseases.
Aim: To determine if treatment with an oral pancaspase inhibitor could reduce serum AST and ALT in patients with HCV.
Methods: Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-dose study in 204 patients treated with placebo or PF-03491390 (5, 25 or 50 mg) orally twice daily (b.d.) for up to 12 weeks. Serum AST and ALT were monitored weekly.
Results: Significant reductions in serum AST and ALT were observed within 1 week of initiating PF-03491390 in all treatment groups (P < 0.0001). These reductions in AST and ALT were maintained throughout the 12 week treatment period and returned to baseline levels when PF-03491390 was discontinued. Increasing the dose did not further lower AST or ALT. The most frequently reported adverse events were headache and fatigue.
Conclusion: PF-03491390 significantly reduced serum AST and ALT levels in patients with chronic HCV, and was well tolerated over 12 weeks.