One of the peculiar aspects of HCV research is the lack of studies on the benefits of HCV therapy on various quality of life issues. In the last couple of years, there have been some studies that when completed will likely point to scientific evidence quantifying the benefits of antiviral therapy with improvement in some of the key symptoms of HCV such as fatigue, muscle and joint pain, skin conditions as well as some other serious extrahepatic manifestations. The study below is a good example of the types of studies needed that prove the benefits of HCV antiviral therapy on the improvement of cognitive deficiencies. Many patients who have been successfully cured of HCV can testify to the many benefits. This is great news and all I have to say is that it is about time!
In March 2013 I wrote an article about this study in the HCV Advocate newsletter.
Abstract: Improvement of neurocognitive function in responders to an antiviral therapy for chronic hepatitis C.
Michael R. Kraus et al. Article first published online: 24 JUN 2013
Earlier studies have suggested neurocognitive impairment in patients with chronic hepatitis
C virus (HCV) infection even before liver cirrhosis has developed.
Since these deficits might be reversible after successful antiviral therapy, we analyzed the long-term course of neurocognitive parameters in HCV patients with and without successful virus elimination
by an interferon-based antiviral treatment.
In a multicenter study including 168 HCV patients receiving antiviral therapy (peginterferon alpha-2b and ribavirin) we performed a long-term follow-up of neurocognitive performance before and after treatment. Neurocognitivefunction was psychometrically assessed using the computer-aided TAP (Test Battery of
Attentional Performance). When tested at least 12 months after termination of antiviral
treatment, patients with sustained virologic response (SVR) had improved significantly as
compared to their pretreatment performance in three of five TAP subtasks (vigilance,
P < 0.001; shared attention: optical task, P < 0.001; working memory, P < 0.001). Patients
who failed to eradicate the virus, however, showed no significant long-term changes
in neurocognitive performance in all five subtasks assessed (0.194 < P < 0.804). In the posttreatment
evaluation, neurocognitive function was significantly better in responders to the
antiviral therapy as compared to nonresponders.
Successful eradication of HCV leads to a significant improvement of relevant aspects of attentional and neurocognitive performance, indicating that the neurocognitive impairment caused by chronic HCV infection is potentially reversible. This therefore suggests an added therapeutic benefit of antiviral
treatment in HCV infection. Improvement of neurocognitive function may be an additional
treatment indication in patients with HCV.