Background Novel direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) have completely changed the panorama of hepatitis C due to their high efficacy and optimal safety profile. Unfortunately, an unexpectedly high rate of early recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma has been reported within weeks of starting treatment, but the mechanism is not known. Methods We monitored the serum level of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and changes in the pattern of circulating interleukins in 103 chronic hepatitis C patients during antiviral treatment with DAA-regimens. VEGF, epidermal growth factor (EGF), and several interleukins were assessed at baseline, during treatment, and after treatment. The biological effect of DAA-treated patient serum on human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) proliferation was also confirmed. Results After 4 weeks of therapy, VEGF increased approximately 4-fold compared to baseline, remained elevated up to the end of treatment, and returned to the pre-treatment level after the end of therapy. In contrast, interleukin-10 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha significantly decreased during therapy, which was coincident with HCV clearance. The levels of both remained low after treatment. The addition of serum from patients collected during therapy induced HUVEC proliferation; however, this disappeared after the end of therapy. Conclusions DAA administration induces an early increase in serum VEGF and a change in the inflammatory pattern, coinciding with HCV clearance. This may alter the balance between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory processes and modify the antitumor surveillance of the host. Fortunately, such modifications return reverse to normal after the end of treatment.

DAAs rapidly reduce inflammation but increase serum VEGF level: A rationale for tumor risk during anti-HCV treatment

VILLANI, ROSANNA;Facciorusso, Antonio;BELLANTI, FRANCESCO;PISCAZZI, ANNAMARIA;LANDRISCINA, MATTEO;VENDEMIALE, GIANLUIGI;SERVIDDIO, GAETANO
2016-01-01

Abstract

Background Novel direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) have completely changed the panorama of hepatitis C due to their high efficacy and optimal safety profile. Unfortunately, an unexpectedly high rate of early recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma has been reported within weeks of starting treatment, but the mechanism is not known. Methods We monitored the serum level of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and changes in the pattern of circulating interleukins in 103 chronic hepatitis C patients during antiviral treatment with DAA-regimens. VEGF, epidermal growth factor (EGF), and several interleukins were assessed at baseline, during treatment, and after treatment. The biological effect of DAA-treated patient serum on human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) proliferation was also confirmed. Results After 4 weeks of therapy, VEGF increased approximately 4-fold compared to baseline, remained elevated up to the end of treatment, and returned to the pre-treatment level after the end of therapy. In contrast, interleukin-10 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha significantly decreased during therapy, which was coincident with HCV clearance. The levels of both remained low after treatment. The addition of serum from patients collected during therapy induced HUVEC proliferation; however, this disappeared after the end of therapy. Conclusions DAA administration induces an early increase in serum VEGF and a change in the inflammatory pattern, coinciding with HCV clearance. This may alter the balance between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory processes and modify the antitumor surveillance of the host. Fortunately, such modifications return reverse to normal after the end of treatment.
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