Author(s): Comai S, Cavalletto L, Chemello L, Bernardinello E, Ragazzi E,
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Abstract The currently recommended therapy for chronic hepatitis C (HCV) is a combination of pegylated interferon-alpha (PEG-IFN alpha) and ribavirin. Psychiatric disorders, including depression, are frequent in HCV patients under therapy. We investigated the effect of the antiviral treatment on tryptophan (Trp) metabolism along both serotonin pathway (via 5-hydroxytryptophan, 5-HTP) and kynurenine (Kyn) pathway and on the onset of depressive symptoms in patients with HCV. The key enzyme of the Kyn pathway is indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), an intracellular haem protein enzyme expressed in several tissues. It was also investigated the influence of the therapy with PEG-IFN-alpha-2a or PEG-IFN-alpha-2b plus oral ribavirin and possible differences between genders. Free and total Trp, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) and Kyn serum concentrations and the presence of depressive symptoms [Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) scores] were evaluated in 45 patients with HCV infection treated with PEG-IFN alpha-2a or -2b at four different times: baseline (before treatment), 1 and 6 months during therapy, and 3 months after the end of therapy. The concentration of serum total TRP (free+protein bound) as well as that of 5-HTP significantly decreased after 1 and 6 months of therapy, and then returned to baseline values 3 months after the end of therapy, while the levels of free TRP did not vary significantly during and after the therapy. On the contrary, the time course of Kyn markedly arose during treatment, paralleled by a significant increase of [Kyn/Trp]×10(3) ratio, an index used to measure IDO activity. No significant difference was detected between males and females neither between PEG-IFN-alpha-2a or -2b treatment. The BDI scores significantly increased during therapy, and returned to baseline values 3 months after the end of therapy. Our results support the hypothesis that the increased IDO-mediated tryptophan metabolism along the Kyn pathway, leading to plasma Trp depletion and a decline of serotonin pathway, concurs to the development of depressive symptoms observed in HCV patients undergoing IFN-alpha therapy. Copyright Â© 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Pharmacol Res
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals