Objectives: Interferon (IFN) therapy is ineffective in about 20-30% of chronic hepatitis C (CH-C) patients who have low HCV RNA levels. Besides the serum HCV RNA level or HCV genotype, hepatic iron concentrations are thought to be correlated with the subsequent response to IFN therapy. Our objective in the present study was to evaluate serum iron, ferritin, and hepatic iron staining in patients with low HCV RNA levels, as predictive markers for IFN therapy.
Methods: We evaluated 75 CH-C patients whose serum HCV RNA levels were below 1 million genome equivalent (mEq)/ml as shown by a bDNA assay.
Results: There were no significant differences in age, sex, serum aminotransferase levels, or serum iron concentrations between responders and nonresponders. The total iron scores (TIS) were significantly higher in responders (p < 0.01). The TIS was an independent factor relating to the response to IFN therapy by multivariate analysis (p = 0.0062). The TIS significantly correlated with serum ferritin levels (r = 0.637, p < 0.001), but not with any other parameter. bi]
Conclusions: Among CH-C patients within the limits of low HCV RNA levels, TIS of the liver may be used as a predictive marker for IFN therapy.