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Meta-analysis discovers vitamin D supplementation may act as an adjunct therapy for hepatitis C treatment

Posted on: September 20, 2017   by  Riley Peterson & John Cannell, MD.

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A recent meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials discovered that vitamin D supplementation positively impacted the response of chronic hepatitis C patients to antiviral treatment.

Hepatitis is a chronic condition in which the liver becomes severely inflamed. This inflammation can be due to abuse of drugs and alcohol, but is most commonly caused by the hepatitis virus. There are five strains of hepatitis viruses, hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Hepatitis C is the most common virus, affecting approximately 170 million individuals worldwide. Additionally, it is the only one of the five strains which does not have a preventative vaccine.

Approximately 80% of hepatitis C cases progress to chronic hepatitis C (CHC), which can lead to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, a common form of liver cancer. Patients with CHC must undergo antiviral treatment in order to control the severe inflammation caused by the hepatitis virus. Effectiveness of antiviral therapy is measured by sustained viral response (SVR), which is indicative of absence of viral activity 24 weeks after treatment. A higher SVR indicates improved CHC treatment response.

Research has found modest associations between vitamin D and both acute and chronic hepatitis C. However, very limited research has evaluated the role of vitamin D supplementation and SVR in patients undergoing antiviral hepatitis and CHC treatment. Therefore, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of the available randomized controlled trials studying the effect of vitamin D supplementation on SVR among CHC patients. 

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