In vitro, vitamin B12 acts as a natural inhibitor of hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication.
Dr Alba Rocco from Italy assessed the effect of vitamin B12 on virological response in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus hepatitis naïve to antiviral therapy.
The research team randomly assigned 94 patients with chronic hepatitis C virus hepatitis to receive pegylated interferon α plus ribavirin or SOC plus vitamin B12.
Viral response—namely, undetectable serum HCV-RNA, was evaluated 4 weeks after starting treatment, 12 weeks after starting treatment and 24 or 48 weeks after starting treatment and 24 weeks after completing treatment.
Genotyping for the interleukin (IL)-28B polymorphism was performed a posteriori in a subset of hepatitis C virus genotype 1 carriers.
The team of researchers noted that overall, rapid viral response did not differ between the 2 groups.
The rates of complete early viral response, end-of-treatment viral response and hepatitis C virus were significantly higher in SOC+B12 patients than in SOC patients.
|Only easy-to-treat HCV genotypes were independently associated with sustained virological response|
In SOC+B12 patients, the sustained virological rate was also significantly higher in carriers of a difficult-to-treat genotype, and in patients with a high baseline viral load.
The doctors noted that distribution of genotype IL-28B did not differ between the 2 groups.
At multivariate analysis, only easy-to-treat HCV genotypes and vitamin B12 supplementation were independently associated with sustained virological response.
Dr Rocco's team commented, "Vitamin B12 supplementation significantly improves sustained virological response rates in HCV-infected patients naïve to antiviral therapy."