Precision Medicine: Determination of Ribavirin Urinary Metabolites in Relation to Drug Adverse Effects in HCV Patients

Ottavia Giampaoli, Fabio Sciubba, Elisa Biliotti, Mariangela Spagnoli, Riccardo Calvani, Alberta Tomassini, Giorgio Capuani, Alfredo Miccheli, Gloria Taliani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The most commonly used antiviral treatment against hepatitis C virus is a combination of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) and ribavirin (RBV), which leads to a shortened duration of therapy and a sustained virologic response until 98%. Nonetheless, several dose-related side effects of RBV could limit its applications. This study aims to measure the urinary concentration of RBV and its main metabolites in order to evaluate the drug metabolism ability of HCV patients and to evaluate the adverse effects, such as anemia, with respect to RBV metabolite levels. RBV and its proactive and inactive metabolites were identified and quantified in the urine of 17 HCV males with severe liver fibrosis using proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H-NMR) at the fourth week (TW4) and at the twelfth week of treatment (EOT). Four prodrug urinary metabolites, including RBV, were identified and three of them were quantified. At both the TW4 and EOT stages, six HCV patients were found to maintain high concentrations of RBV, while another six patients maintained a high level of RBV proactive metabolites, likely due to nucleosidase activity. Furthermore, a negative correlation between the reduction in hemoglobin (Hb) and proactive forms was observed, according to RBV-triphosphate accumulation causing the hemolysis. These findings represent a proof of concept regarding tailoring the drug dose in relation to the specific metabolic ability of the individual, as expected by the precision medicine approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)N/A-N/A
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • 1
  • H-NMR
  • urinary metabolites
  • ribavirin (RBV)
  • severe liver fibrosis
  • hepatitis C virus (HCV)


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