Objective: This study is aimed to investigate the association between interferon-alpha (IFN-α) plus ribavirin (RBV) treatment and emergence of somatic pain symptoms in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) over a 24-week treatment. Method: In this prospective cohort study, 297 patients with HCV were evaluated at baseline and 2nd, 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, 20th, and 24th week with structured Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) diagnosis and the Neurotoxicity Rating Scale (NRS) for somatic symptoms. Results: Eighty-seven out of the 297 patients (29%) developed IFN-α induced depression and had significantly higher somatic pain symptoms as early as the 2nd week and at all the assessment time points (p < .001). Most depressed patients perceived greatest somatic pain at the 8th week of treatment. Moreover, NRS somatic pain scores after initial therapy strongly correlated with NRS somatic pain scores at all other assessment time points (p < .001). Conclusion: IFN-α therapy induce significant somatic pain as early as the 2nd week of treatment in HCV patients who later developed MDD. Thus, initial NRS somatic pain score after initiation of IFN-α treatment may serve as a reference for the susceptibility of the individual to IFN-α induced depression.
- Major depressive disorder
- Somatic pain