We found that a herbal medicine (Mao-to) relieves the side effects of interferon (IFN)-β and the combination therapy improves the biochemical response rate. However, the exact mechanism by which Mao-to is effective remains to be established. We conducted a controlled trial to clarify the effects of Mao-to. The study was carried out in 18 patients with chronic hepatitis C, and we examined subjective symptoms, body temperature and cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-1receptor antagonist (ra), IL-6 and TNF-α. Each patient received 6 million units of IFN-β intravenously. Mao-to was given orally just before, just after, and 1 hour after IFN administration. The control study was carried out 6 months after the combination therapy of Mao-to and IFN-β. The scores for general malaise, arthralgia and discomfort were significantly lower in the combination group than in control group. Body temperature did not significantly differ between the two groups. Plasma IL-6 level and IL-1ra were significantly elevated in the combination group compared to control (P = 0.0057 and 0.0003, respectively). Mao-to did not affect plasma concentrations of IL-1β and TNF-α. We considered the increment of IL-1ra caused by Mao-to is to be one of the key factors involved in reducing the flu-like symptoms accompanying IFN-β and improving the biochemical response rate.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Pharmaceutical Science
- Drug Discovery
- Complementary and alternative medicine