Hepatitis C infection is a major healthcare problem, with 1.5% of the American population being infected with the virus.
Previous studies have reported that in Japan, ALT normalization induced by long-term intravenous glycyrrhizin treatment can reduce the progression of liver disease to hepatocellular carcinoma in chronic hepatitis C patients.
A study from the University Hospital of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, has therefore examined the use of glycyrrhizin for reduction of ALT in European patients with chronic hepatitis C.
|Glycyrrhizin decreased ALT levels|
|American Journal of Gastroenterology|
The research team included in the study patients with chronic hepatitis C, as well as those non-responsive, or unlikely to be responsive (genotype1/cirrhosis) to interferon therapy.
Medication was administered intravenously 3 or 6 times per week for 4 weeks, with follow-up lasting for the same time period, and the short-term feasibility and efficacy on serum ALT of the treatment was assessed.
A total of 69 out of 72 treatment courses were completed according to the protocol.
There were no significant changes in ALT levels within the placebo group (n = 13), and the mean percentage ALT decrease from baseline at the end of treatment was 26% and 47% for the 3 times per week and 6 times per week treatment groups respectively.
At the end of active treatment, 10% and 29% of the patients reached normal ALT levels for the 3 times per week and 6 times per week treatment groups respectively.
The ALT lowering effect disappeared after cessation of treatment, with no major side-effects being observed either during or after the medication period.
The research group concludes that it appears feasible to treat European outpatients suffering from chronic hepatitis C with a treatment protocol of 3 or 6 times per week intravenous glycyrrhizin, and that such medication can induce a significant ALT decrease in such patients.