Low-dose oral Interferon could exert immune-modulating effects in human. Researchers have conducted a clinical trial to investigate the efficacy of oral Interferon-alpha in preventing hepatitis C relapse.
Totally 169 genotype 1b chronic hepatitis C patients having achieved end-of-therapy virological clearance were randomized to receive Interferon-alpha lozenge 500 IU/day ( n=59 ), 1,500 IU/day ( n=53 ), or placebo ( n=57 ) for 24 weeks.
Overall, no significant differences were found for the relapse rates in the 3 groups ( P greater than 0.05 ). However, in patients with fibroindex 1.4–1.7, relapse occurred in 1/12 ( 8.3% ) 500 IU-group patients versus 9/21 ( 42.9% ) patients of the other groups ( P=0.05 ).
In 158 patients receiving at least 4 weeks of oral Interferon, significantly higher platelet count was found at the end of trial in the 500 IU group ( P=0.003 ).
In thrombocytopenic patients, a significantly expedited recovery of platelet count was found in the 500 IU group ( P=0.002 ).
No drug-related severe adverse events were reported.
In conclusion, at 500 IU/day, oral Interferon exerted a borderline suppression effect of virological relapse in chronic hepatitis C patients with mild liver fibrosis. Additionally, it significantly expedited platelet count recovery after the end of Peginterferon therapy. ( Xagena )
Lee C-M et al, J Interferon Cytokine Res 2014; 34: 187-194