Background: Vitamin D has immunomodulatory properties, exerts an anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) effect in vitro and improves response to interferon-based therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC). Low serum levels of 25(OH) vitamin D [25(OH)D] are frequently found in CHC patients and seem to be related to more advanced stages of liver fibrosis. The study aims to establish the incidence of vitamin D deficiency in Spanish patients with CHC, its possible relation with features of liver damage and with the IL28B gene polymorphism, and the immediate effect of vitamin D therapy on CHC-related analytical variables.
Materials and methods: Baseline serum 25(OH)D levels were measured in 108 consecutive CHC patients (60 men, age 54.3 ± 10.5 yrs). Results of transient elastography and of IL28B rs12979860C/T genotype were available in 89 and 95 patients, respectively. Forty one patients with insufficient levels of 25(OH)D received vitamin D supplements and were re-evaluated thereafter.
Results: Deficiency of vitamin D (< 20 μg/dL) and suboptimal levels (20-30 μg/mL) were detected in 36.1% and 40.9% of patients, respectively. No relationships were found between 25(OH)D levels and biochemical liver tests, fibrosis stage and IL28B genotype. Vitamin D therapy normalized 25(OH)D levels in all treated patients, but did not modify significantly HCV-RNA serum levels or biochemical tests.
Conclusions: Vitamin D deficiency is common in Spanish patients with CHC but it is related neither to biochemical and virological variables nor with the fibrosis stage and IL28B polymorphism. Vitamin D therapy has no immediate effect on HCV-RNA serum levels.