Lege Artis Medicinae

[INFLAMMATION AND ATHEROSCLEROSIS]

JAKAB Lajos

NOVEMBER 20, 2007

Lege Artis Medicinae - 2007;17(11)

[The role of vascular wall inflammation in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis is becoming increasingly clear. However, the causal relationship between the inflammation and the course of atherosclerosis, which begins in childhood and continues for life, is debated in the literature. The interpretation of the basic pathophysiologial essence of inflammation is also controversial. This paper summarizes the basics and various features of inflammation, the body's defensive and aversive reaction. The “acute phase reaction syndrome” is a general, immediate, non-specific defense reaction of the organism, which is strongly associated with the specific, adaptive immune response. There are inflammatory processes that are chronic from the start. When looking at the main types and functions of the arterial wall proteoglycans, it is clear that they, along with the lipoprotein receptors and HDL cholesterol, are closely connected to the process, course and characteristics of the inflammation. The arterial wall proteoglycans are definitely capable of directly and indirectly influencing the inflammatory process. The issue of a possible target of statin derivatives other than the inhibition of cholesterol biosynthesis has not been resolved. Atherosclerosis may be considered a primarily chronic individual vasculitis syndrome that involves all layers of the blood vessels, and is determined by the risk factors and by the special structure of the arterial wall. The presence of inflammation is a prerequisite to the development and throughout the entire course of atherosclerosis.]

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[INTRODUCTION - Persistently normal alanine aminotransferase levels, which occur in a fraction of patients chronically infected with hepatitis C virus, do not rule out the presence of chronic hepatitis C, even of that with advanced inflammation and fibrosis. Here we report our results of the treatment of these patients. PATIENTS AND METHODS - Patients with histologically confirmed chronic hepatitis C received combined antiviral treatment with pegylated interferon (alfa-2a 1×180 μg/week or alfa-2b 1×1.5 μg/kg/week) and ribavirin (800- 1200 mg/day) for 48-52 weeks. The alanineaminotransferase levels of 21 patients (14 females, 7 males, age: 20-54, mean 38 years) did not reach the upper limit of normal (40 U/l) during the period of observation (≥6 months). There were 19 and 2 cases with hepatitis C virus genotype 1b and 3, respectively. The patients' hepatitis activity index was 3.7 1.75, fibrosis score: 0.9 0.64, baseline viral titer: 1.18 1.12×106 IU/ml, alanine-aminotransferase level: 33.51 7.2 U/l. The last 100 unselected patients with elevated alanine-aminotransferase levels enrolled in treatment for chronic hepatitis C and who were followed for at least 6 months served as the control group with the following parameters: 41 females and 59 males (age: 18- 65, mean: 45.65 years), viral genotypes: 98 and 2 cases of type 1 and 3, respectively, hepatitis activity index: 5.44±4.03, stage: 1.29±1.00, baseline viral titer: 4.13±6.25×106 IU/ml. RESULTS - In the study group, all patients were hepatitis C virus RNA negative at the end of the treatment and with one exception remained so by the end of the 6-month follow-up period (20/21), while the sustained virologic response was 36% in the control group. The pretreatment normal alanine aminotransferase level decreased significantly (15.26 4.9 vs 33.51 7.2 U/l, p<0.001) by the end of the treatment, and remained at this level during the follow-up in all except one relapse case. CONCLUSION - The efficacy of the combined antiviral treatment is high in patients with persistently normal alanine aminotransferase levels, possibly due to the relatively younger age, the higher proportion of females, the lower baseline viral titer, and the less advanced liver disease (lower inflammatory activity and less or absent fibrosis) observed in this group. Combined antiviral treatment is recommended for patients with histologically confirmed chronic hepatitis C with normal alanine aminotransferase levels, even with mild inflammatory activity and minimal or absent fibrosis in the liver tissue. The previous suggestions based on published evidence to revise the upper limit of the normal range of alanine aminotransferase level are supported by the results of this study.]

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