Increased ferritin predicts poor response in Hepatitis C

Serum ferritin levels were independently shown to be a risk factor for poor response to treatment in hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection (Hepatology 2012; 55: 1038-47).  This article adds additional information to previous work which has shown that increased iron can be a comorbid factor in chronic viral hepatitis and other liver diseases.

This study used the Swiss Hepatitis C Cohort Study (SCCS) (n=3648).  In this group, the success of treatment with pegylated interferon alpha and ribavirin were correlated with clinical and histological features.

Ferritin levels ≥ the sex-specific median values was one of the strongest pretreatment predictors of treatment failure (OR 0.45). It had a similar predictive effect as the IL28B genotype.  In addition, higher ferritin levels were associated with severe liver fibrosis (OR 2.67) and steatosis (OR 2.29).  For women the sex-specific median for ferritin level was 85 μg/L and for men it was 203 μg/L.  The authors note that these cutoffs are quite close to the upper limits of normal of the general population (150 and 300 respectively).

Mechanistically, HCV interferes with the host’s iron metabolism leading to iron accumulation in the liver.  Part of this is explained by down-regulation of hepcidin (Help with hepcidin).  Part is due to ferritin acting as an acute phase reactant to inflammation.  Ultimately, excess iron promotes liver inflammation, oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction.

How important ferritin will be with newer therapies is not clear.  It is likely that patients that are less responsive to dual therapy (pegylated interferon/ribavirin) will have poorer response as well to triple or quadruple therapies.

Additional references/previous related posts:

1 thought on “Increased ferritin predicts poor response in Hepatitis C

  1. common liver disease worldwide. Also known as the ‘silent epidemic’, Hepatitis C could have infected a patient for years before actually being discovered. HCV is one of the strains of the Hepatitis virus whose list goes from A through G.The Hepatitis C virus attacks the liver. It keeps on multiplying, killing the surrounding tissue. The immune system fights back, usually causing reactions such as inflammation and fibrosis of the liver. If not detected and treated in time, it could lead to liver cancer or cirrhosis. ..

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