Interferon alfa (IFN) therapy is efficacious in chronic viral hepatitides. It may, however, cause adverse immunologic reactions in patients with concomitant autoimmune phenomena. A minority of patients with chronic type C hepatitis have antibodies against liver and kidney microsomes (anti-LKM) in serum. We therefore carried out this study to find out whether IFN is safe and efficacious also in this subgroup. We treated 92 consecutive cases of chronic hepatitis C with IFN. Twelve patients had anti-LKM, and the remaining 80 tested negative to the anti-LKM. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection was diagnosed on the basis of positive anti-HCV and HCV-RNA tests. We compared the clinical and virological results of the therapy and the side effects found in the two groups. We found that the response to therapy and the outcome after 1 year of follow-up were similar. Treatment was discontinued in one anti-LKM-positive patient because of a drastic increase in ALT levels at the fourth month of therapy. No untoward effect was observed in the other cases. Hepatitis C patients with anti-LKM may be exposed to an increased risk of an adverse hepatitic reaction while being treated with IFN. However, we found that the extent of the risk was minimal compared with the expected benefits of the therapy. IFN is therefore recommended as the first therapy to choose in these patients. They must, however, be monitored more closely for possible liver dysfunction than the ordinary hepatitis C patient. (Hepatology 1995; 22:1374–1378).
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