Vitamin B12 Improves Viral Response in Chronic Hepatitis C

Effect more pronounced in patients infected with HCV genotype 1 or high baseline viral load

FRIDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- Vitamin B12 supplementation significantly improves the rate of sustained viral response (SVR) to pegylated interferon-α and ribavirin in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection naive to antiviral therapy, according to a study published online July 17 in Gut.

To examine the effect of vitamin B12 supplementation on virologic response, Alba Rocco, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Naples Federico II in Italy, and colleagues randomly assigned 94 treatment-naive patients with chronic HCV infection to receive pegylated interferon-alpha; plus ribavirin (standard-of-care; SOC) or SOC plus vitamin B12 (SOC + B12). Viral response (undetectable serum HCV-RNA) was evaluated at four weeks (rapid viral response), 12 weeks (complete early viral response), and 24 or 48 weeks after starting treatment (end-of-treatment viral response), and 24 weeks after the end of treatment (SVR).

The researchers observed no difference between the groups in the rapid viral response. However, for SOC + B12 patients, the rates of complete early viral response, end-of-treatment viral response, and SVR were significantly higher than in SOC patients. The SVR rate was also significantly higher among SOC + B12 patients who were carriers of a difficult-to-treat genotype and in patients with a high baseline viral load. Easy-to-treat HCV genotype and vitamin B12 supplementation were independently associated with SVR in multivariate analysis.

"In conclusion, vitamin B12 supplementation significantly improves the rates of SVR in HCV-infected patients naive to antiviral therapy, particularly those infected with genotype 1 and a high baseline viral load," the authors write.

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