Regression of hepatic fibrosis in hepatitis C with long-term interferon treatment

Dig Dis Sci. 1998 Dec;43(12):2573-6. doi: 10.1023/a:1026601904609.


Cirrhosis occurs in 20-50% of patients with hepatitis C and is thought to be irreversible. We describe two patients with cirrhosis secondary to hepatitis C in whom the extensive fibrosis and cirrhosis appeared to regress in response to treatment with interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha). Both patients were in the early stages of cirrhosis, class A in the Child-Pugh classification, total score 5 for each patient. Both responded fully to IFN-alpha and had normalization of all liver function tests and disappearance of hepatitis C viral RNA. Liver biopsies, performed before and after treatment, were coded unpaired by patient, combined with 21 liver biopsies from eight other patients with chronic hepatitis, and read independently by two pathologists using the Knodell scoring system. Knodell scores decreased from 14 to 3.5 and from 13.5 to 4 in these two patients. Cirrhosis and extensive fibrosis, present at baseline, were not present on follow-up liver biopsies, which were of sufficient size to reduce the likelihood of sampling error. We conclude that hepatic fibrosis and clinically early cirrhosis may be reversible in some patients with hepatitis C who respond to treatment with IFN-alpha.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Female
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / complications*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / pathology
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / drug therapy*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / pathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / physiopathology
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Interferon-alpha
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Alanine Transaminase