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Hyperpigmentation during interferon-alpha therapy for chronic hepatitis C virus infection

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Many types of skin disorders concomitantly occur with hepatitis C virus infection. These skin lesions may be induced or worsened during antiviral therapy with interferon-alpha (IFN). To our knowledge, hyperpigmentation of the skin—and especially of the tongue—has not been reported so far. We describe two dark-skinned patients who developed hyperpigmented skin and tongue lesions during combination therapy with IFN and ribavirin. Immunohistochemical analysis of tongue biopsies confirmed the suspicion of melanin deposits in these areas of hyperpigmentation. We hypothesize that during interferon therapy, melanocytes may produce more melanin pigment in the presence of α-melanocyte stimulating hormone and sufficient amounts of tyrosine, leading to melanin deposits and clinical hyperpigmentation.

Keywords: chronic hepatitis C; combination therapy; hyperpigmentation; interferon-alpha; skin

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Departments of Hepatogastroenterology, 2: Dermatology and 3: Pathology, University Hospital Rotterdam, the Netherlands 4: Department of Dermatology and Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Cell Biology and Immunobiology of the Skin, University of Münster, Germany

Publication date: 2003-08-01

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