In a new study, researchers found that untreated patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection had significantly low levels of vitamin D.
“Given the paucity of information on the role of vitamin D in [chronic hepatitis B], along with recent data suggesting vitamin D may contribute to interferon-stimulated gene expression, we evaluated the baseline serum vitamin D levels and their association with baseline clinical parameters and clinical outcomes among a large population of patients with treatment-eligible [chronic hepatitis B] infection,” the researchers wrote.
Researchers, including Henry Lik-Yuen Chan, MD, of Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong, randomly assigned 740 patients with chronic HBV without advanced liver disease to either 48 weeks of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) plus pegylated interferon alfa-2a (PEG-IFN alfa-2a); TDF plus PEG-IFN alfa-2a for 16 weeks followed by TDF for 32 weeks; PEG-IFN alfa-2a for 48 weeks; or TDF for 120 weeks. Fifty-eight percent of the cohort were positive for hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg); 66% were male; and were all randomly assigned therapy at 139 clinical sites.
“Low baseline vitamin D level was associated with lower baseline ALT level and a lower tendency to normalize ALT after 48 weeks of treatment,” the investigators wrote. “Although the effect of vitamin D on virologic treatment outcomes were largely confounded by different clinical and virologic factors in this study. Whether a low vitamin D level contributes to unsuccessful immune clearance and active hepatitis warrants further study.” – by Melinda Stevens