, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 570-574

A significant reduction in serum alanine aminotransferase levels after 3-month iron reduction therapy for chronic hepatitis C: a multicenter, prospective, randomized, controlled trial in Japan

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Increasing evidence indicates that iron cytotoxicity plays an important role in the pathogenesis of chronic hepatitis C (CHC). However, the biochemical effects of iron reduction therapy on CHC remain to be confirmed in a controlled study. This study aimed to test whether iron removal by repeated phlebotomy improves serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels in patients with CHC.


Patients were randomly assigned to an iron reduction therapy or control group. The patients in the treatment group received 3-month iron reduction therapy by biweekly phlebotomy, while the patients in the control group were followed up for 3 months with regular blood tests alone.


Thirty-three patients completed the 3-month treatment, while 29 patients received the complete follow-up. The serum ALT levels were reduced from 118 ± 79 to 73 ± 39 IU/L in the treatment group, but did not change in the control group (106 ± 45 versus 107 ± 48 IU/L). Posttreatment enzyme activity was decreased significantly from the baseline. Furthermore, it was significantly lower than the 3-month control level. Although 5 patients withdrew from the study, none was affected by any side effects of repeated phlebotomy that required them to discontinue the treatment.


This short-term controlled trial demonstrated the biochemical efficacy and safety of iron reduction therapy for patients with CHC.