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Keywords:

  • chronic liver disease;
  • collagen metabolism;
  • hepatic fibroplasia;
  • procollagen peptides;
  • steroid treatment

ABSTRACT— Serum aminoterminal type III procollagen peptide (sPIIIP) has been proposed as an index of hepatic fibroplasia. sPIIIP was retrospectively evaluated in 34 treated and five untreated patients affected by chronic active hepatitis with or without cirrhosis by an RIA test. Serum samples taken before and after 6 months of treatment were tested in all cases. In 15 of the treated and all untreated patients, 6–20 (median 13) sera, corresponding to a median follow-up of 43 months were studied. Before treatment, the sPIIIP median value was 18.6 ng/ml; after 6 months of treatment, it decreased to 13.6 ng/ml (p <0.005). Follow-up sPIIIP levels were significantly lower in treated than in untreated patients (p <0.05), at each interval considered, except for the last control (39 months). In seven patients, treatment was discontinued: sPIIIP rose rapidly in six; four of them were retreated and this was followed by a new decrease. In four patients, sPIIIP was tested weekly from the onset of the treatment: it reverted to normal values within the first week in all cases, while GOT decreased later. sPIIIP is significantly and rapidly reduced by steroids. Steroid withdrawal is generally followed by a rebound, with a new decrease when treatment is restarted. Since sPIIIP is more rapidly lowered than GOT levels, the above data support the hypothesis that steroids can directly affect collagen metabolism.