High-dose induction with alpha-interferon induces early viral clearance of hepatitis C and combined with ribavirin enhances sustained response. We assess whether adding ribavirin after viral clearance obtained by alpha-interferon induction increased the rate of viral eradication.Forty-one naïve patients with chronic hepatitis C were randomised to receive, after 4 weeks of 10 mU daily of alpha-interferon (induction), 3 mU daily for 22 weeks and 3 mU thrice weekly for 26 weeks of either interferon alone (monotherapy) or interferon plus 1000-1200 mg daily of ribavirin (combination therapy). At the end of the induction phase, 23 (56%) subjects had cleared HCV-RNA. During therapy, breakthrough was observed in four patients on monotherapy, but never in patients on combination therapy. The rate of clearance of HCV-RNA was different between monotherapy and combination therapy at the end of treatment (40% vs. 76.1%, P=0.02) and at the end of follow-up (5% vs. 57.1%, P=0.001). Twelve of the 23 patients who cleared HCV-RNA during induction, but only one of the 18 still HCV-RNA-positive after 4 weeks of therapy, had a sustained response (52.2% vs. 5.6%, P=0.001). Clearance of HCV-RNA at 1 week had a high positive predictive value for sustained response in combination therapy (PPV=0.75), but not in monotherapy (PPV=0.33). Induction with high daily doses of alpha-interferon obtains suppression of hepatitis C in more than half of patients, but ribavirin is needed to maintain a sustained response. The rate of sustained response is a function of the time to HCV-RNA clearance. In patients not responding to induction therapy addition of ribavirin does not obtain a sustained virological response.
|Numero di pagine||6|
|Rivista||Journal of Viral Hepatitis|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2002|
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