HEPATITIS C VIRUS
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract In chronic hepatitis C the rate of relapse afteran end-of-treatment response to interferon may exceed50%. The usefulness of retreatment of relapsers withinterferon in obtaining a complete sustained response and the role of clinical, virological andimmunological features in determining long-term efficacyof retreatment are unclear. We aimed to assess theefficacy of interferon retreatment in obtaining acomplete sustained response, to evaluate whetherincreasing the dose may enhance responsiveness, and toidentify possible predictors of sustained response. Weenrolled 42 patients with biopsy-proven chronichepatitis C without cirrhosis who had previouslyresponded to a six-month course ofInterferon-α2b (total dose: group A, 22patients, 234 MU; group B, 20 patients, 468 MU) and thenrelapsed. All, except one, were HCV-RNA negative at the end of first cycle ofinterferon; most (31/42, 74%) were infected by HCV 1b.Subjects were randomly allocated to receive anothercycle of interferon either at the original dose (group A1: 234 MU, 11 patients; groupB 468 MU, 10 patient) or twice the original dose (groupA2: 468 MU, 11 patients; group B : 936 MU, 10patients). At the end of the second cycle of interferon,24 subjects (57%) had normal ALT and were HCV-RNAnegative, and 16 (39%) had normal ALT, but were HCV-RNApositive. A complete sustained response was obtained ineight patients (19%), at a similar rate in all treatment groups. Complete sustainedresponders were different from the other patients interms of age (35.9 ± 10.4 vs 44.1 ± 8.8,P = 0.027), rate of infection with non-1b HCV (6/8 vs5/34, P = 0.0005), serum HCV-RNA (74,016 vs 321,428median copies/ml, P = 0.037) and serum levels of90K/MAC-2 BP (5.76 ± 3.01 vs 10.25 ± 5.16units/ml, P = 0.02), an N-glycoprotein implicated incellular defense functions. Multivariate logistic analysisvalidated age and HCV genotype as independent predictorsof CSR. Among noncirrhotic relapsers who received atotal interferon dose ≥234 MU in the first cycle,retreatment usually induced end-of-treatment response. Acomplete sustained response was obtained in only one ofevery five subjects. Increasing the dose of interferonabove that of the first cycle did not enhance the rate of sustained response. In conclusionwe might assert that young subjects infected by non-1bHCV and with low levels of HCV-RNA and of 90K/MAC-2 BPare the best candidates for retreatment.
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