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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 13, Issue 1, Pages 11-15

Serum Islet Cell Autoantibodies During Interferon α Treatment in Patients With HCV-Genotype 4 Chronic Hepatitis

1Department of Hepatology, National Liver Institute, Minufiya University, Minufiya, Egypt
2Division of Internal Medicine, San Paolo School of Medicine, University of Milan, Milan, Italy
3Division of Rheumatology, Allergy, and Clinical Immunology, University of California, Davis, California, USA
4Clinical Pathology Division, National Liver Institute, Minufiya University, Minufiya, Egypt
5Molecular and Cellular Biology Department, Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Research Institute, Minufiya University, Sadat City, Minufiya, Egypt

Copyright © 2006 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a leading cause of end-stage liver disease worldwide and HCV genotype 4 (HCV4) is predominant in African and Middle Eastern countries. It is well established that interferon-α (IFNa) treatment for HCV may trigger serum autoantibodies against pancreatic islet cells (ICA) in a subgroup of patients. Available data on the incidence of ICA during IFNa therapy for chronic HCV4 infection are not conclusive. We investigated the appearance of ICA in 40 naïve Egyptian patients (38 males, 32 ± 6 years) with histologically defined chronic HCV4 infection undergoing IFNa treatment at a dose of 9-million U/week for 24 weeks. Serum samples were collected at baseline and following IFNa therapy and ICA were detected using indirect immunofluorescence. Baseline evaluation indicated that 2/40 (5%) patients had detectable serum ICA. After the completion of the treatment scheme, 12/38 (32%) previously ICA negative patients became ICA positive; however, no patient developed impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or diabetes during follow-up. In conclusion, we submit that IFNa treatment for chronic hepatitis C (CHC) may induce serum ICA in one-third of Egyptian patients with HCV4. These autoantibodies, however, do not lead to alterations in glucose metabolism.