Background: The immunosuppressive potential of anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in exacerbating chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has been a major concern. We aim to critically analyze the impact of anti-TNF on the course of chronic HCV infection in patients with concurrent inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and HCV infection.
Materials and methods: Patients with diagnosis of IBD and HCV were identified retrospectively through the University of Pennsylvania Health System electronic database. Data assessed included demographics, duration of IBD and HCV infection, HCV RNA levels, HCV genotype, liver histology, hepatic biochemical tests (HBT) and IBD disease activity index.
Results: A total of 4,274 IBD and 3,523 HCV patients were identified from 10/1998 to 05/2010. Thirty-seven patients had concurrent HCV infection and IBD, of which 23 patients were eligible (61 % CD; 39 % UC). Five patients (22 %) received anti-TNF therapy (infliximab). Two patients received pegylated interferon and ribavirin (both were non-responders). Overall, three patients had clinical remission and one patient had clinical response to infliximab. When compared to baseline, one patient had HBT improvement, three patients remained stable and one patient had HBT elevation, which was likely due to progressive liver disease in view of HIV co-infection.
Conclusion: This represents the first critical analysis assessing the impact of anti-TNF therapy on the course of chronic HCV in IBD patients. Concurrent HCV infection in IBD patients is uncommon. Treatment of IBD with infliximab in HCV patients did not result in flares in hepatic biochemical tests while there was an improvement in the IBD disease activity score.