Seizures during pegylated interferon and ribavirin therapy for chronic Hepatitis C: observations from the WIN-R trial

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2011 Mar;45(3):286-92. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e3181f656fb.


Background: Seizures are reported as an uncommon side effect of interferon therapy.

Aim: To determine the frequency and presentation of seizures occurring during pegylated interferon-α (PEG-IFNα) and ribavirin therapy for chronic hepatitis C.

Methods: Patients were identified using data from the WIN-R trial database, a US multicenter study comparing fixed (800 mg) versus weight-based (800 to 1400 mg) daily dosing of ribavirin in combination with PEG-IFNα-2b (1.5 μg/kg/wk).

Results: Of the 4913 enrolled patients, 8 (0.16%) had a seizure. Three patients had a grand mal seizure and the seizure type was unknown in 5 patients. At the time of seizure, 6 patients were taking antidepressants (including 3 on bupropion), 1 was hyponatremic, and 1 had consumed a significant amount of alcohol. One patient had a history of seizures. Neuroimaging and electroencephalographic studies were negative. Antiepileptic medications were continued in the patient with a history of seizures and initiated in 1 patient. PEG-IFNα-2b plus ribavirin therapy was continued in 2 patients following seizure and neither experienced a recurrent seizure.

Conclusions: Seizures occur infrequently in patients receiving PEG-IFNα-2b plus ribavirin, and appear to be associated with other risk factors including antidepressant use.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antiviral Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Hepacivirus / drug effects
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / virology
  • Humans
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha / administration & dosage
  • Interferon-alpha / adverse effects*
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polyethylene Glycols / administration & dosage
  • Polyethylene Glycols / adverse effects*
  • Polyethylene Glycols / therapeutic use
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Ribavirin / administration & dosage
  • Ribavirin / adverse effects*
  • Ribavirin / therapeutic use
  • Seizures / chemically induced*
  • Seizures / epidemiology*
  • Seizures / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Ribavirin
  • peginterferon alfa-2b