To evaluate the efficacy of weekly administration of interferon (IFN)-α, we studied 23 anti-HCV positive patients with chronic hepatitis diagnosed by liver needle biopsy. Thirteen patients received weekly intramuscular injections of 6 MU human lymphoblastoid interferon (HLBI) for 24 weeks, and the other 10 patients were given no treatment. We examined liver-specific idiotype-bearing antibody (LSIA) in the patients' sera. This HLBI treatment was easily tolerated by all the treated patients. In the treated group serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) level significantly decreased during HLBI treatment. Normalization of serum ALT level by the end of treatment was observed in 7/13 (54% ) of the treated patients but in 0% of the non-treated patients. Anti-HCV was detectable in all the patients during the treatment. Those who had high LSIA levels did not respond to HLBI treatment. These results demonstrate that weekly administration of IFN is sufficient to suppress disease activity in patients with chronic hepatitis C and that patients with high LSIA levels are unlikely to respond to IFN therapy.
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