Soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) is probably released from a variety of cells, including leukocytes and endothelial cells at sites of inflammation or in the circulation, and serum levels may therefore be used to give an indication of immune activation and inflammatory processes. In the present study, an ELISA was used to measure serum ICAM-1 levels in 43 patients with chronic hepatitis C and these were correlated with histological changes in the liver and the response to interferon alpha treatment. Serum ICAM-1 levels were significantly higher in patients with chronic hepatitis C infection than in normal subjects and correlated positively with the grade of histological activity, in particular the degree of portal, periportal, and lobular inflammation, but not with the presence of lymphoid aggregates. There was also a weak but significant positive correlation between sICAM-1 and serum aspartate aminotransferase activities, and sICAM-1 levels were substantially greater in patients with than those without cirrhosis. Serum ICAM-1 levels fell significantly in 11 responders out of 19 patients treated with interferon alpha, whereas levels remained unchanged in the non-responder group. sICAM-1 levels correlate with the clinical status of patients with chronic hepatitis C infection and fall with successful interferon treatment.
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