Thyroid Dysfunction in Chinese Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C Treated with Interferon Alpha: Incidence, Long-Term Outcomes and Predictive Factors


avatar Zehui Yan 1 , avatar Ke Fan 1 , avatar Yi Fan 1 , avatar Xiaohong Wang 1 , avatar Qing Mao 1 , avatar Guohong Deng 1 , avatar Yuming Wang 1 , *

Institute of Infectious Diseases, Southwest Hospital, Third Military Medical University, [email protected], 400038, China

how to cite: Yan Z, Fan K, Fan Y, Wang X, Mao Q, et al. Thyroid Dysfunction in Chinese Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C Treated with Interferon Alpha: Incidence, Long-Term Outcomes and Predictive Factors. Hepat Mon.12(9):6390. doi: 10.5812/hepatmon.6390.



Thyroid dysfunction (TD) represents an extra-hepatic manifestation of chronic hepatitis C (CHC) and it may also be a side effect of interferon-alpha (IFN-?) based treatment. However, previous studies have shown a wide variation in the incidence of TD in patients with CHC. Furthermore, the long-term outcomes and the predictive factors of TD in patients who receive IFN-? based treatment have still not been fully studied.


The purpose of this study was to describe the incidence and long-term outcomes of TD in Chinese patients with CHC receiving IFN-? based treatment. We also aimed to identify the predictive factors of TD associated with this type of therapy.

Patients and Methods:

A retrospective case-series study of 592 consecutive CHC patients with normal baseline thyroid functions, who received IFN-?based therapy, was performed. Thyroid function was assessed at baseline and every three months during treatment, as well as in the follow-up after cessation of therapy. The incidence and long-term outcomes of TD were observed. The prevalence of pretreatment thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAb) were assayed in a sex- and age-matched nested case-control study. Multivariable stepwise regression analysis was used to explore the independent effects of the baseline factors, on the incidence of TD.


At the end of the IFN-?based therapy, 68 patients (11.5%) in the study had developed TD, 58 patients (85.3%) presented with subclinical TD, and only 10 patients (14.7%) developed overt thyroiditis. The thyroid function of 46 patients (67.8%) spontaneously returned to normal in the six months of follow-up and only three patients (4.4%) had persistent overt TD symptoms after the 24 month follow-up period. Multivariate stepwise analysis suggested that gender and pretreatment TPOAb were the independent factors related to the incidence of TD. Both female patients (OR, 4.31; 95%CI, 2.067.31; P = 1.2610-4) and participants with a positive pretreatment TPOAb (OR = 3.9, 95%CI, 1.728.54, P = 0.008) had an increased risk for the development of TD.


The incidence of TD in Chinese patients with CHC during IFN-?based therapy was 11.5%, the majority of which was subclinical, while only a very small group had long-term overt TD requiring ongoing medical therapy. Female gender and pretreatment TPOAb positivity are risk factors for the development of TD during IFN-?based therapy.

Full Text

Full text is available in PDF

© 2012, Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License ( which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited.