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      Interferon-alpha may exacerbate cryoblobulinemia-related ischemic manifestations: an adverse effect potentially related to its anti-angiogenic activity.

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          Abstract

          The discovery of the strong association between hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and the development of mixed cryoglobulinemia has motivated active testing of antiviral-directed alternative therapies. Several trials have demonstrated that classic cryoglobulinemia-associated manifestations improve with interferon-alpha (IFNalpha) treatment. Herein we report on 3 HCV-infected patients with severe cryoglobulinemia-related ischemic manifestations who were closely followed up during IFNalpha therapy. Clinical evaluations with special attention to ischemic lesions, liver function tests, and cryocrit determinations were serially performed. In addition to prednisone and immunosuppressive agents, the patients received IFNalpha at 3 x 10(6) units, 3 times per week for 2 months, 3 months, and 4 months, respectively. In all 3 patients, systemic features improved, liver function results returned to normal, and cryocrit values decreased. However, ischemic lesions became less vascularized and ischemia progressed, leading to transmetatarsal and subcondylar amputation, respectively, in 2 of the patients and fingertip necrosis and ulcer enlargement in the third. Skin biopsies performed before IFNalpha therapy and after 2 months of IFNalpha therapy in the third patient showed a significant decrease in subepidermal microvessels. When IFNalpha was discontinued, the lesions finally healed. Cryoglobulinemia-related ischemic lesions may worsen during IFNalpha treatment, presumably through a decrease in inflammation-induced angiogenesis. The anti-angiogenic activity of IFNalpha may delay the appropriate healing of ischemic lesions.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Arthritis Rheum.
          Arthritis and rheumatism
          Wiley
          0004-3591
          0004-3591
          May 1999
          : 42
          : 5
          Affiliations
          [1 ] University of Barcelona, Spain.
          10.1002/1529-0131(199905)42:5<1051::AID-ANR26>3.0.CO;2-Q
          10323463

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