Paroxetine for prevention of depressive symptoms induced by interferon-alpha and ribavirin for hepatitis C

C. L. Raison, B. J. Woolwine, M. F. Demetrashvili, A. S. Borisov, R. Weinreib, J. P. Staab, J. M. Zajecka, C. J. Bruno, M. A. Henderson, J. F. Reinus, D. L. Evans, G. M. Asnis, A. H. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

119 Scopus citations


Background: Whether antidepressants prevent depression during interferon-alpha/ribavirin treatment for hepatitis C virus infection has yet to be established. Aim: To investigate the use of paroxetine in a prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled study for this indication. Methods: Sixty-one hepatitis C virus-infected patients were randomly assigned to the antidepressant, paroxetine (n = 28), or placebo (n = 33), begun 2 weeks before and continued for 24 weeks during interferon-alpha/ribavirin treatment. Primary endpoints included development of major depression and severity of depressive symptoms measured by the Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). Results: Rates of major depression during the study were low (17%) and did not differ between groups. Nevertheless, using published MADRS cut-off scores, the percent of subjects who met criteria for mild, moderate or severe depression during interferon-alpha/ribavirin therapy was significantly lower in paroxetine- vs. placebo-treated subjects (P = 0.02, Fisher's exact test). Assignment to paroxetine was also associated with significantly reduced depressive symptom severity. This effect was largely accounted for by participants with depression scores above the median (MADRS > 3) at baseline in whom paroxetine was associated with a maximal reduction in MADRS scores of 10.3 (95% CI: 2.1-18.5) compared with placebo at 20 weeks (P < 0.01). Study limitations included a small sample size and high drop-out rate. Conclusion: This double-blind, placebo-controlled trial provides preliminary data in support of antidepressant pre-treatment in hepatitis C virus patients with elevated depressive symptoms at baseline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1163-1174
Number of pages12
JournalAlimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 1 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

Cite this

Raison, C. L., Woolwine, B. J., Demetrashvili, M. F., Borisov, A. S., Weinreib, R., Staab, J. P., Zajecka, J. M., Bruno, C. J., Henderson, M. A., Reinus, J. F., Evans, D. L., Asnis, G. M., & Miller, A. H. (2007). Paroxetine for prevention of depressive symptoms induced by interferon-alpha and ribavirin for hepatitis C. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 25(10), 1163-1174.