1Kazuyoshi Suzuki, Masaya Tamano, Yasumi Katayama, Toru Kuniyoshi, Kagemasa Kagawa, Hiroshi Takada, Kazutomo Suzuki, Department of Gastroenterology, Dokkyo Medical University Koshigaya Hospital, Saitama 343-8555, Japan.
To investigate the occurrence and severity of pruritus in chronic hepatitis C patients treated with or without interferon (IFN) therapy.
A total of 89 patients with chronic hepatitis C and 55 control (non-hepatitis) patients were asked to rate their experience of diurnal and nocturnal pruritus in the preceding week using a visual analogue scale (VAS) and a five-point scale, respectively. Blood samples were taken and serum thymus and activation-regulated chemokine (TARC) levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
A significantly greater proportion of chronic hepatitis C patients experienced nocturnal pruritus compared with control (58.4% vs 5.5%, P < 0.0001). Chronic hepatitis C patients also had more severe pruritus compared with control patients, indicated by the higher mean VAS scores in both the IFN-treated and non-IFN-treated groups. In particular, patients who received combined peginterferon alfa-2b and ribavirin had significantly higher mean VAS scores than those receiving peginterferon alfa-2a or no IFN treatment. Serum TARC levels did not correlate with pruritus scores, and no significant differences in TARC levels were observed between the IFN-treated and non-IFN-treated groups.
Patients with chronic hepatitis C experience pruritus more than those without. Serum TARC levels do not correlate with pruritus severity in chronic hepatitis C patients