The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Low vitamin D levels lower the response to treatment of hepatitis C

    Liver-DamageResearchers from Italy report that low vitamin D is linked to severe fibrosis and a poor response to interferon treatment.

    First, the details.

    • 197 patients with biopsy-proven hepatitis C and 49 healthy individuals were studied.
    • 167 patients received treatment with pegylated interferon (Peg-Intron) + ribavirin (Copegus), the cornerstone of therapy for chronic hepatitis C.
    • Vitamin D (25[OH]D) blood levels were measured.
    • Liver enzymes (CYP27A1 and CYP2R1) were measured in 34 patients and 8 healthy individuals.

    And, the results.

    • Vitamin D levels were significantly lower in women and in the presence of necroinflammation — evidence of cell death.
    • Higher CYP27A1 levels, but not CYP2R1, were associated with higher levels of vitamin D, while lower levels of CYP27A1 were related to greater necroinflammation.
    • Low vitamin D levels, low cholesterol levels, older age, high ferritin (iron-containing protein), and necroinflammation were all independent predictors of severe fibrosis, which can lead to cirrhosis.
    • Hepatic steatosis (fatty tissue changes) and lower levels of vitamin D and cholesterol predicted that patients would not achieve a sustained response.

    The bottom line?

    After sifting through all the details, the authors concluded that low vitamin D is linked to severe fibrosis and low sustained response to interferon-based therapy.

    An earlier laboratory study reported that “vitamin D(2) possessed anti-hepatitis C virus activity in a cell culture system.” Those authors concluded that vitamin D should be considered to enhance the effects of interferon therapy. And this latest study supports that conclusion.

    12/26/09 21:26 JR

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