Euroasian journal of hepato-gastroenterology

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VOLUME 11 , ISSUE 1 ( January-June, 2021 ) > List of Articles


Role of Pegylated Interferon in Patients with Chronic Liver Diseases in the Context of SARS-CoV-2 Infection

Sheikh Mohammad Fazle Akbar, Julio C Aguilar, Md H Uddin, Md Sakirul I Khan, Osamu Yoshida, Eduardo Penton, Guillen N Gerardo, Yoichi Hiasa

Citation Information : Akbar SM, Aguilar JC, Uddin MH, Khan MS, Yoshida O, Penton E, Gerardo GN, Hiasa Y. Role of Pegylated Interferon in Patients with Chronic Liver Diseases in the Context of SARS-CoV-2 Infection. Euroasian J Hepatogastroenterol 2021; 11 (1):27-31.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10018-1341

License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Published Online: 28-06-2021

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2021; The Author(s).


The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in 168 million cases and about 3.5 million deaths (as of May 26, 2021) during the last 18 months. These 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic have been characterized by phases or waves of new cases, the emergence of new variants of the deadly virus, and several new complications. After providing emergency approval to several drugs and adherence to several public health measures with frequent full and partial lockdowns, the incidence of new severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) could not be contained till now on a global basis. Although prophylactic vaccines have inspired optimism, the scarcity of vaccines and several vaccine-related regulations indicate that the vaccine's benefit would not be reaching the people of developing countries anytime soon. In the course of our clinical practice, we used pegylated interferon (Peg-IFN) in 35 patients with chronic liver diseases (CLD), and we found that only two of them were infected with SARS-CoV-2 that was mild in nature. These two patients with CLD have a mild course of disease cured without any specific therapy. Patients with CLD are usually immune-compromised. However, three CLD patients remained free of SARS-CoV-2 although they had COVID-19 patients among their family members. Next, we accomplished two studies for assessing the immune-modulatory capacities of Peg-IFN, 1 and 12 injections following administration of Peg-IFN. The data revealed that peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of Peg-IFN-administered CLD patients produced significantly higher levels of some cytokines of innate immunity in comparison with the cytokines produced by PBMC of CLD patients before Peg-IFN intake. The pattern of cytokine responses and absence of infection of SARS-CoV-2 in 33 of 35 CLD patients represent some preliminary observations indicating a possible role of Peg-IFN in patients with CLD. The study may be extended to other chronic infections and cancers in which patients receive Peg-IFN. The role of Peg-IFN for pre- or postexposure prophylaxis in the acquisition of SARS-CoV-2 infection and influencing the natural course of COVID-19 remains to be clarified.

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