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Keywords:

  • cholesterol;
  • fluvastatin;
  • hepatitis C virus;
  • interferon-α;
  • lipoviral particle;
  • polyunsaturated fatty acid (omega-3 fatty acids)

Abstract

Background & Aims

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) utilises cholesterol and lipoprotein metabolism for replication and infectivity. Statins and omega-3 (n–3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) have been shown to have antiviral properties in vitro. This open label pilot study evaluated the efficacy of fluvastatin (Lescol® 40–80 mg) and n-3 PUFA (Omacor®1 g and 2–4 g) on HCV-RNA and lipoviral particles (LVP) in difficult to treat prior non-responders.

Methods

Patients (= 60) were randomly allocated in a factorial design to: no active drug; low-dose n-3 PUFA; high-dose n-3 PUFA; fluvastatin; low-dose n-3 PUFA + fluvastatin; or high-dose n-3 PUFA + fluvastatin. 50/60 completed study drugs for 12 weeks and followed up to week 24. Comparison was made between fluvastatin (= 24) vs no fluvastatin (= 26) and n-3 PUFA high-dose (= 17) vs low-dose (= 17) vs none (= 16). The primary outcomes were change in total HCV-RNA, LVP and ALT at week 12 compared with baseline. Secondary outcome was change in interferon-gamma-inducible protein-10 (IP10) as a measure of interferon activation.

Results

35% had compensated cirrhosis and 45% were prior null responders. There was no significant change in total HCV RNA, LVP, non-LVP or LVP ratio in patients receiving fluvastatin or n-3 PUFAs. ALT was not significantly different in those treated with fluvastatin or n-3 PUFAs. 12 weeks of low-dose n-3 PUFA decreased median IP10 concentration by −39 pg/ml (−111, 7.0 pg/ml Q1–Q3).

Conclusions

Fluvastatin and n-3 PUFAs have no effect on plasma HCV-RNA or LVP. The effect of low-dose n-3 PUFA on IP10 warrants further prospective evaluation as a supplemental therapy to enhance interferon sensitivity.