News from Hepatitis Week of August 31, 2003 / Vol. 3 No. 35
Study: Obese Hepatitis C Patients Less Likely to Respond to Interferon Therapy

Obese hepatitis C patients are less likely to respond to treatment with interferon than their counterparts who weigh less, according to a study reported in the September issue of Hepatology.

Researchers at the University of Toronto sought to determine whether body mass index (BMI) was an independent predictor of response to antiviral treatment in patients with chronic hepatitis C.

The researchers reviewed the records of all patients with chronic hepatitis C who were treated with antiviral medication at a single facility from 1989 to 2000. A sustained response was defined as either negative hepatitis C virus RNA by polymerase chain reaction and/or normal alanine aminotransferase level six months following completion of therapy.

The study involved 253 patients who were classified as being normal weight, overweight or obese based on their BMI and who were treated with either interferon alone or in combination with ribavirin.

Obese patients were nearly four times less likely to respond to such treatment compared with normal and overweight patients.

"Obesity&is an independent negative predictor of response to hepatitis C treatment," concluded the researchers.

Other sources: Hepatology 2003 Sep;38(3):639-44