- Pegylated Interferon is a special compounded form of the Type I Interferons and is used to treat Chronic Viral Hepatitis infections. Pegylation conjugates the proteinacous Interferon-alpha or -beta cytokine to large polyethylene glycol (PEG) molecules which reduces the rate of renal clearance.
- As reviewed in Type I Interferons, these cytokines are a major coordinator of the anti-viral host response and result in the synthesis of a large variety of endogenous anti-viral proteins in host cells. Exogenously delivery of pegylated Interferon essentially activates this antiviral host response and in doing so reduces viral replication by inducing synthesis of endogenous host antiviral mediators.
- Interferons are powerful cytokines and in addition to their local antiviral effects produce powerful systemic effects. Pharmacological doses can result in flu-like constitutional symptoms such as fever, chills, myalgia, headache, and fatigue. Of greater concern is bone marrow suppression which can lead to granulocytopenia and thrombocytopenia. Neurotoxicity is also observed and can manifest as confusion, somnolence, and behavioral abnormalities.