Journal of Gastroenterology

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 444–451 | Cite as

Decrease in alpha-fetoprotein levels predicts reduced incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with hepatitis C virus infection receiving interferon therapy: a single center study

  • Yukio Osaki
  • Yoshihide UedaEmail author
  • Hiroyuki Marusawa
  • Jun Nakajima
  • Toru Kimura
  • Ryuichi Kita
  • Hiroki Nishikawa
  • Sumio Saito
  • Shinichiro Henmi
  • Azusa Sakamoto
  • Yuji Eso
  • Tsutomu Chiba
Original Article—Liver, Pancreas, and Biliary Tract



Increasing evidence suggests the efficacy of interferon therapy for hepatitis C in reducing the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The aim of this study was to identify predictive markers for the risk of HCC incidence in chronic hepatitis C patients receiving interferon therapy.


A total of 382 patients were treated with standard interferon or pegylated interferon in combination with ribavirin for chronic hepatitis C in a single center and evaluated for variables predictive of HCC incidence.


Incidence rates of HCC after interferon therapy were 6.6% at 5 years and 13.4% at 8 years. Non-sustained virological response (non-SVR) to antiviral therapy was an independent predictor for incidence of HCC in the total study population. Among 197 non-SVR patients, independent predictive factors were an average alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) integration value ≥10 ng/mL and male gender. Even in patients whose AFP levels before interferon therapy were ≥10 ng/mL, reduction of average AFP integration value to <10 ng/mL by treatment was strongly associated with a reduced incidence of HCC. This was significant compared to patients with average AFP integration values of ≥10 ng/mL (P = 0.009).


Achieving sustained virological response (SVR) by interferon therapy reduces the incidence of HCC in hepatitis C patients treated with interferon. Among non-SVR patients, a decrease in the AFP integration value by interferon therapy closely correlates with reduced risk of HCC incidence after treatment.


Alpha-fetoprotein Hepatocellular carcinoma Hepatitis C Interferon 



This work was supported by Grants-in-aid for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yukio Osaki
    • 1
  • Yoshihide Ueda
    • 2
    Email author
  • Hiroyuki Marusawa
    • 2
  • Jun Nakajima
    • 1
  • Toru Kimura
    • 1
  • Ryuichi Kita
    • 1
  • Hiroki Nishikawa
    • 1
  • Sumio Saito
    • 1
  • Shinichiro Henmi
    • 1
  • Azusa Sakamoto
    • 1
  • Yuji Eso
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tsutomu Chiba
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Gastroenterology and HepatologyOsaka Red Cross HospitalOsakaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Gastroenterology and HepatologyGraduate School of Medicine, Kyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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