Sex Hormones and HCV

An Unresolved Mystery

Radwa Y Mekky; Ahmed I Abdelaziz


Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013;7(1):69-75. 

In This Article

Expert Commentary

From our point of view, though female sex hormones are downregulators of endogenous release of IFN, they indirectly inhibit various host factors that cause IFN resistance, therefore indirectly render females better responders to interferon therapy. The exact role of sex hormones in the natural course of infection and treatment has not been critically investigated. This raises the question: 'can HCV-infected males and females undergo hormone replacement therapy either alone or during IFN treatment?' More investigation is needed to clarify this issue.

It is noteworthy that 20–25% of HCV patients progress to chronic liver cirrhosis, wherein sex hormone levels are altered.[56] Female sex hormone levels are elevated while testosterone levels are decreased in patients who exhibit liver cirrhosis.[57–59] This makes it crucially important to study the impact of hormonal imbalance after HCV liver disease progression on viral behavior.