Chronic Hepatitis C Infection and Parkinsonism: What’s the Link?

hepatitis C
hepatitis C
For patients with chronic hepatitis C, there is a significantly greater risk for developing parkinsonism, however, treatment with PegIFN/RBV may reduce this risk.

For patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC), there is a significantly greater risk for developing parkinsonism, however, treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin (PegIFN/RBV) may reduce this risk, according to results of a recent study.

In order to determine the association between CHC and parkinsonism, the study authors utilized the National Health Insurance Research Database in Taiwan to identify CHC patients between 2004 and 2012. “We compared patients with and without CHC, as well as patients receiving pegylated interferon and ribavirin (PegIFN/RBV) antiviral therapy to those without such therapy,” the study authors explained. A propensity score was used to match the cohorts by age, sex, and comorbidities and patients were monitored for new diagnoses of parkinsonism.

The study authors reported that the untreated CHC cohort (hepatitis C virus [HCV] cohort) and the non-HCV cohort each included 49,342 patients. Results of the study found that CHC increased the risk of parkinsonism by 31% after adjustments for age, sex, and comorbidities were made (HR: 1.306; 95% CI: 1.208, 1.412). Additionally, an increase in the risk of parkinsonism that required an anti-Parkinson medication was observed (adjusted HR: 1.323; 95% CI: 1.214, 1.441).

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“Another 23,647 patients without antiviral therapy (untreated HCV cohort) were matched with 23,467 patients receiving PegIFN/RBV antiviral therapy (treated HCV cohort),” the study authors explained. They added, “Patients receiving antiviral therapy had a significantly lower (38%) risk of developing parkinsonism (adjusted HR: 0.618, 95% CI: 0.498–0.765) and a reduced risk of parkinsonism requiring anti-Parkinson medication (adjusted HR: 0.651, 95% CI: 0.515–0.823).”

Based on their findings, the authors concluded that the risk of developing parkinsonism is significantly increased for patients with CHC, however, treatment with PegIFN/RBV antiviral therapy may aid in reducing the risk.


Su TH et al. Antiviral Therapy Is Associated with Reduced Risk of Parkinsonism in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C. Presented at AASLD The Liver Meeting 2018. Study number 1619.

This article originally appeared on MPR