Abstract: Background and aim: The safe level of alcohol ingestion in sporadic drinkers with hepatitis C is unknown. Our aim was to evaluate the effect of a single moderate alcohol intake on serum HCV RNA concentrations and hepatic function in patients with chronic HCV infection.
Methods: Twenty-one patients with chronic hepatitis C were randomly assigned to consume 50 g alcohol (group 1) or a non-alcoholic beverage (group 2). In both groups, serum ethanol, serum HCV RNA, transaminase and γ-glutamyltranspeptidase (γ-GT) levels were measured just before alcohol intake and after 1, 2, 8, 24 h and 1 week's time.
Results: The maximum concentration of ethanol in the blood was observed at the first hour after alcohol intake. No significant changes were observed in serum HCV RNA after alcohol intake. Repeated measurements of HCV RNA among the two groups revealed no difference (P=0.215). Similarly, no difference was observed in transaminase and γ-GT levels at different time points in each group or among the groups [(ALT (P=0.082), AST (P=0.33), γ-GT (P=0.538)].
Conclusions: In patients with chronic hepatitis C, a single intake of 50 g alcohol does not affect liver biochemistry and HCV RNA concentrations. Therefore, it is a matter of further research whether sporadic drinking of light or moderate amounts of alcohol should be avoided in patients with chronic hepatitis C.