The hypothesis of this study is that pegylated interferon would cause cognitive deficits and
mood changes in hepatitis C (HCV) positive subjects.
Subjects with non-cirrhotic hepatitis C will have a magnetic resonance imaging
(MRI)/magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy and neuropsychological testing prior to starting
interferon. Subjects will have repeat testing following 12 weeks of interferon therapy and
again at 12 weeks post interferon therapy.
MR spectroscopy (MRS) will measure the cerebral metabolites, NAA (N-acetyl aspartate), Cho
(choline), MI (myoinositol) and Cr (creatine) at 3 distinct brain regions, i.e. basal
ganglia and 2 locations within the frontal cortex.
Neuropsychological testing will include tests of the following cognitive domains: executive
functioning, memory, language, motor skills and will also include questionnaires pertaining
to quality of life (SF-36), mood (Beck's depression inventory) and a self-rating cognitive
questionnaire (Conners' Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Rating Scales
Control subjects will include non-cirrhotic HCV subjects who are not taking interferon
- Adults (>18 years old) of both sexes with chronic HCV infection (all genotypes).
- Subjects due to start treatment with pegylated interferon-alpha (IFN-a) for HCV
- Subjects with chronic hepatitis C who have elected not to be treated with
- Subjects with mild fibrosis on liver biopsy (stage 0-III/IV fibrosis)
- Subjects able to give informed consent.
- Subjects with controlled depression currently taking anti-depressant medication.
- Subjects with cirrhosis on liver biopsy.
- Subjects with active alcohol or drug abuse.
- Subjects co-infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
- Subjects with structural brain abnormality, past history of cerebrovascular accident
(CVA) or serious head trauma.
- Subjects with seizure disorder.
- Subjects with any contraindication to IFN therapy.
- Subjects with a poor command of the English language.
- Subjects with a contraindication to MRI, e.g. pacemaker, claustrophobia.