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Pharmacy World and Science

, 27:423 | Cite as

Side Effects of Interferon-α Therapy

  • Stefan SleijferEmail author
  • Marjolein Bannink
  • Arthur  R.  Van Gool
  • Wim  H. J. Kruit
  • Gerrit Stoter
Review Article

Abstract

Aim

Interferon-α (IFN-α) has been extensively explored for its efficacy in various disease conditions and is currently used as a standard treatment in several of these. Its use is accompanied by a wide variety of possible side effects. These side-effects may hamper reaching and maintaining the dose needed for maximal therapeutic effect while their occurrence can outweigh clinical benefit of IFN-α treatment. This review addresses the toxicity profile of IFN-α, the presumed pathophysiology of the different side effects and the strategies to handle these.

Methods

Computerized searches were used and cross-references of articles and books were checked.

Results

Adverse effects due to IFN-α have been described in almost every organ system. Many side-effects are clearly dose-dependent. Taken together, occurrence of flu-like symptoms, hematological toxicity, elevated transaminases, nausea, fatigue, and psychiatric sequelae are the most frequently encountered. Although insight in the mechanisms accounting for IFN-α-related toxicities has improved in recent years, much remains to be elucidated. Guidelines on the management of these untoward sequelae are mostly based on clinical experience, while many side-effects can only be adequately handled by dose adjustment or cessation of treatment.

Conclusion

Further research on the mechanisms underlying both therapeutic effects and adverse events is warranted. Hopefully, this will lead to better identification of those patients who are likely to benefit from treatment without experiencing severe toxicities.

Keywords

Hepatitis Interferon-α Melanoma Pathophysiology Renal cell carcinoma Side effects 

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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Sleijfer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marjolein Bannink
    • 2
  • Arthur  R.  Van Gool
    • 2
  • Wim  H. J. Kruit
    • 1
  • Gerrit Stoter
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medical OncologyErasmus University Medical Center – Daniel den Hoed Cancer CenterRotterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryErasmus University Medical Center – Daniel den Hoed Cancer CenterRotterdamThe Netherlands

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