Alcohol abstinence does not offset the strong negative effect of lifetime alcohol consumption on the outcome of interferon therapy

Marco Tabone, L. Sidoli, C. Laudi, S. Pellegrino, G. Rocca, P. Della Monica, M. Fracchia, G. Galatola, G. C. Molinaro, S. Aricò, A. Pera

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Heavy alcohol consumption has been reported to negatively affect the outcome of interferon therapy. We studied the impact of lifetime alcohol consumption in patients with chronic hepatitis C treated with interferon after 6 months of alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol intake was measured when patients with chronic hepatitis C were referred to us for the first time, and from that moment complete abstinence was recommended. After 6 months of abstinence, 150 patients with persistent elevated serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) have been treated with interferon (IFN)-α, 3 or 6 mU three times per week for 12 months. Univariate and multivariate analysis were performed to identify the predictors of treatment response. Carbohydrate-deficient transferrin was employed to assess alcoholic abstinence. The sustained response rate felt from 33% in nondrinkers to 20% of mild-drinkers and to only 9% in heavy drinkers. Drinker patients showed a relapse rate twice as high as that of nondrinkers. According to the multivariate analysis, the strongest independent predictors of nonresponse were genotype 1b infection, age of the patients and their lifetime alcohol intake. Carbohydrate-deficient transferrin detected at baseline, at 3 months of therapy and at the end of follow-up gave a positive result only in eight determinations (1.77%), confirming the compliance of patients to our recommendation of alcohol abstinence. Lifetime alcohol consumption has a strong negative effect on the outcome of interferon treatment, mainly in heavy drinkers. A 6-month period of abstinence may not be sufficient to offset this negative effect on treatment outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-294
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Viral Hepatitis
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Alcohol consumption
  • Chronic hepatitis C
  • Interferon therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Virology


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