Autoantibodies and autoimmune disease during treatment of children with chronic hepatitis C

Jean P. Molleston, William Mellman, Michael R. Narkewicz, William F. Balistreri, Regino P. Gonzalez-Peralta, Maureen M. Jonas, Steven J. Lobritto, Parvathi Mohan, Karen F. Murray, Dolores Njoku, Philip Rosenthal, Bruce A. Barton, Monica V. Talor, Irene Cheng, Kathleen B. Schwarz, Barbara A. Haber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES:: Autoantibodies were studied in a well-characterized cohort of children with chronic hepatitis C during treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin to assess the relation with treatment and development of autoimmune disease. METHODS:: A total of 114 children (5-17 years), screened for the presence of high-titer autoantibodies, were randomized to pegylated interferon with or without ribavirin. Anti-nuclear, anti-liver-kidney-microsomal, anti-thyroglobulin, anti-thyroid peroxidase, insulin, anti-glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) antibodies were measured after trial completion using frozen sera. RESULTS:: At baseline, 19% had autoantibodies: anti-nuclear antibodies (8%), anti-liver-kidney-microsomal antibodies (4%), and glutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies (4%). At 24 and 72 weeks (24 weeks after treatment completion), 23% and 26% had autoantibodies (P=0.50, 0.48 compared with baseline). One child developed diabetes and 2 hypothyroidism during treatment; none developed autoimmune hepatitis. At 24 weeks, the incidence of flu-like symptoms, gastrointestinal symptoms, and headaches was 42%, 8% and 19% in those with autoantibodies versus 52%, 17%, and 26% in those without (P=0.18, 0.36, and 0.20, respectively). In children with negative hepatitis C virus polymerase chain reaction at 24 weeks, there was no difference in the rate of early virologic response/sustained virologic response, respectively, in those with autoantibodies 76%/69% vs 58%/65% in those without (P=0.48). CONCLUSIONS:: Despite screening, we found autoantibodies commonly at baseline, during treatment for chronic hepatitis C and after. The presence of antibodies did not correlate with viral response, adverse effects, or autoimmune hepatitis. Neither screening nor archived samples assayed for thyroid and diabetes-related antibodies identified the 3 subjects who developed overt autoimmune disease, diabetes (1), and hypothyroidism (2).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-310
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • autoimmune
  • complications
  • diabetes
  • hypothyroid
  • pediatrics
  • therapy
  • viral hepatitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Gastroenterology


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