Insulin resistance affects sustained virological response (SVR) in chronic hepatitis C. To know whether adding metformin to standard antiviral treatment improves SVR, we conducted a prospective, multicentered, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial in 19 Spanish hospitals, including 123 consecutive patients with genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C and insulin resistance. Patients were randomized to receive either metformin (arm A; n = 59) or placebo (arm B; n = 64) in addition to peginterferon alfa-2a (180 =g/week) and ribavirin (1000-1200 mg/day). The primary end point was SVR, and secondary endpoints were viral clearance at weeks 12, 24, and 48, and changes in the homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) index over the first 24 weeks. There were no differences between arms at baseline. In the intent-to-treat analysis, SVR was observed in 53% versus 42% in arm A and arm B, respectively (P = NS). In the subgroup analyses, SVR was higher in females (n = 54) receiving metformin: arm A, 58% (15/26) versus 29% (8/28) arm B (P = 0.03). In the per protocol analysis (PPA; n=101), SVR was 67% in arm A and 49% in arm B (P=0.06). Viral decline during the first 12 weeks was greater in females receiving metformin: -4.88 (1.18) versus -4.0 (1.44) (P = 0.021), whereas no differences were seen in males. The triple therapy was well tolerated, but diarrhea wasmore often seen in arm A (34% versus 11%; P< 0.05). Conclusion: Adding metformin to peginterferon and ribavirin was safe and improved insulin sensitivity. Although the study failed to show a statistically significant difference between arms, it did show an improved SVR in females. Copyright © 2009 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.
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