Direct antivirals and cognitive impairment in hepatitis C: a clinical-neurophysiologic study

Cognition was assessed in hepatitis C virus (HCV) patients, who did not meet the criteria for a minimal hepatic encephalopathy. Their liver function was compensated. We then disentangled potential cognitive changes associated with a sustained virologic response at 12 weeks (SVR-12), following treatment with direct antiviral agents (DAAs). We studied 23 selected HCV patients with a battery of standard neuropsychological tests, and with recordings of the P300 wave, a cerebral potential of “cognitive” significance. There was a baseline evaluation (T0) and a second one 6 months later (T1). We had 2 control groups of comparable age and sex, i.e., 15 patients suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and 15 healthy subjects. At T0, we detected a significant (p < 0.05) cognitive impairment in the HCV group, which involved episodic and working memory, attention, visuospatial and verbal abilities, executive functions, and logic reasoning. The P300 latency was significantly (p < 0.05) delayed in the group. At T1, we observed some significant (p < 0.05) HCV recovery in given test domains, e.g., memory, executive functions, and reasoning. Accordingly, the P300 latency shortened significantly (p < 0.05). HCV patients exhibited subtle cognitive defects, somehow independent of their liver condition, possibly linked to direct or indirect brain involvement by the virus. These defects partly recovered following the SVR-12, as achieved through DAAs. The P300 wave was a valid neurophysiologic counterpart of these changes. DAAs can have a role in the early preservation of cognition in HCVs.

Reference:

Vaghi G, Gori B, Strigaro G, Burlone M, Minisini R, Barbaglia MN, Brigatti E, Varrasi C, Pirisi M, Cantello R. Direct antivirals and cognitive impairment in hepatitis C: a clinical-neurophysiologic study. J Neurovirol. 2020 Sep 10. doi: 10.1007/s13365-020-00904-6. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32910431.


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