Objective We investigated the effects of vitamin E and C supplementation on the fatty acid composition of mononuclear cells and on the clinical observations in patients who had chronic hepatitis C and received interferon-α-2b (IFN-α-2b) and ribavirin combination therapy.
Methods Patients were randomly allocated to receive daily 500 mg of vitamin E and 750 mg of vitamin C (vitamin group, n = 14) or no supplement (non-vitamin group, n = 16) in addition to IFN-α-2b and ribavirin therapy. The fatty acid composition of mononuclear cell phospholipids was analyzed before and at 2, 4, and 8 wk after treatment.
Results After vitamin supplementation, plasma and red blood cell α-tocopherol and plasma ascorbic acid levels increased in the vitamin group. Serum levels of alanine aminotransferase decreased significantly after 2 wk of treatment in both groups. At the start of treatment, a lower level of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and a higher level of the molar ratio of arachidonic acid to EPA in mononuclear cells were observed in the present patients compared with healthy volunteers, and a significant correlation between the molar ratio and serum alanine aminotransferase level was found. The EPA level of mononuclear cells was maintained in the vitamin group during treatment, whereas a significant decrease was observed in the non-vitamin group at 4 and 8 wk after treatment.
Conclusions Antioxidant vitamin supplementation during IFN-α-2b and ribavirin therapy prevented a decrease in EPA of mononuclear cell phospholipids. If a further decrease in the ratio of arachidonic acid to EPA can be achieved by using oral EPA supplementation, the efficacy of IFN-α-2b and ribavirin therapy may be improved.