Both the anti-infective and anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin D, an essential hormone of calcium homeostasis, have ample support in the literature. The high rates of vitamin D deficiency among patients with chronic hepatitis C are also well known. That supplementation with vitamin D may boost sustained viral response rates in vitamin D deficient, hepatitis C virus (HCV) infected patients undergoing Interferon-alpha (IFN) treatment, on the other hand, is controversial. Surprisingly, studies considering in this latter setting what are the effects of IFN treatment (with or without vitamin D supplementation) on the other major regulator of mineral metabolism, i.e. the Parathyroid hormone (PTH), are lacking.


Evaluate the impact of interferon-based treatment against HCV (±cholecalciferol supplementation) on vitamin D and PTH homeostasis.


A series of 40 consecutive patients received pegylated IFN plus ribavirin to treat chronic hepatitis C. At the discretion of their physician, some of them (N. = 27) received vitamin D supplementation while others did not (N. = 13). All had measured plasma 25-hydroxycholecalciferol and PTH concentrations at baseline, at completion of the 4th (TW4) and 12th treatment week (TW12) and at 24 weeks after the end of therapy (SVR24).


Plasma PTH concentration increased significantly from baseline during treatment, raising to 44.8 [30.7-57.2] pg/mL at TW4 (p=0.01), 47.0 [37.1-63.2] pg/mL at TW12 (p=0.006) to return to baseline levels in the follow-up (34.5 [27.6-43.0]; p=0.16). The proportion of patients who satisfied criteria for hyperparathyroidism was higher at TW12 (N=10, 25%) than at TW4 (N=6, 15%). There was no statistical correlation between vitamin D and PTH blood levels (ρ=-0.07; p=0.65).


An increase in plasma PTH occurs systematically during IFN treatment of HCV patients and cannot be prevented by vitamin D supplementation.

Keywords: INF, HCV therapy, Vitamin D supplementation, Secondary hyperparathyroidism, PTH, FGF23.
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