More than 50% of patients infected with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) do not respond to treatment with conventional interferon (IFN) combined with ribavirin (RBV). The aim of our study was to evaluate the effectiveness of retreatment with peginterferon alfa-2a or 2b (PEG-IFN 2a or 2b) concomitantly with RBV in patients with HCV genotype 2 and 3, which were non-responders or relapsers to initial treatment with IFN / RBV and to identify possible predictors of sustained virological response (SVR).
From September 2003 to March 2009 a cohort of 216 patients who had previously failed therapy with a regimen of standard interferon and ribavirin, were followed in a specialized service implemented in the Brazilian Unified Health System, Rio Grande do Sul. All patients were retreated with PEG-IFN 2a or 2b per week, associated with RBV, through oral route, with doses determined according to weight (1,000 mg if weight ≤ 75 Kg and 1,250 mg if ≥ 75 Kg) per day for 48 weeks. The HCV-RNA was tested by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Virological Response (VR) within 48 weeks and SVR in the 72 weeks was considered for evaluation of treatment efficacy. Analyses were performed in patients who received at least one dose of PEG-IFN.
The SVR rate for non-responders to previous treatment was 34.4% and for relapsers was 50% (p = 0.031). As predictive factors that contribute to improve SVR, were identified the age (p = 0.005), to be relapsers to previous treatment (p = 0.023) and present liver biopsy examination Metavir F0-F2 (p = 0.004). In assessing the safety profile, 51 patients (23.6%) discontinued treatment prematurely.
This alternative retreatment for patients who have failed prior therapies for anti-HCV, has demonstrated promising SVR rate, provided that it includes a careful selection of patients with predictors of response and adverse events monitored.
Hepatitis C; Retreatment; Peginterferon alpha; Ribavirin
Treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection with interferon (IFN) and ribavirin (RBV) is associated with adverse events, which may affect the patient's adherence to the treatment regimen and the treatment efficacy.
The aim of this study was to assess the sustained viral response (SVR) and interdependence between the haematological characteristics (leukocyte count, platelet count, and haemoglobin levels) in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) infection during treatment with IFN and RBV.
Patients and Methods
We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 170 children with CHC infection who completed treatment with IFN-α and RBV. The children were divided into 2 groups: the first group (group I, n = 119) underwent a 48-week course of treatment with recombinant IFN α-2b (Intron A) at a dosage of 3 MU 3 times a week subcutaneously and RBV at a dosage of 15 mg/kg per day orally, and the second group (group II, n = 51) was administered pegylated IFN (peg-IFN)-α-2b (PegIntron) at a dosage of 1.5 μg/kg per week subcutaneously and RBV at a dosage of 15 mg/kg per day orally for 48 weeks. The dose of IFN was not adjusted but that of ribavirin was in 2 children from group II. Hematological growth factors and erythropoietin were not used. SVR was defined as undetectable serum HCV RNA 24 weeks after the end of treatment (study week 72). Serum HCV RNA was determined by performing polymerase chain reaction, and the HCV genotypes and hematological parameters were evaluated. Serum HCV RNA levels were analysed by descriptive statistics. Means and standard deviations were calculated for values collected at the baseline, on the 12th and 48th weeks during treatment, and after 24 weeks of untreated follow-up (study week 72).
Eighty-six (50%) of the 170 patients who underwent treatment achieved SVR: 62 (51%) out of 119 children from group I and 24 (47%) out of 51 from group II. The mean serum hemoglobin levels and leukocyte and platelet counts at week 12 were significantly lower than the baseline values in both responders and non-responders from both the groups (P < 0.05). In the responders in group I, the mean levels of serum hemoglobin after 24 weeks of treatment and at the end of therapy were significantly lower than the mean levels at baseline. In the group treated with peg-IFN-α-2b and RBV (group II), the mean serum hemoglobin levels at week 12 was lower in the responders than in the non-responders (P < 0.05). The decrease in the hemoglobin levels was associated with viral response. In both the responders and non-responders from both the groups, leukocyte counts decreased during treatment, and after 12 weeks, they were more significantly lower than the baseline value. The decrease was more marked in children treated with peg-IFN-α-2b + RBV (P < 0.05). After 12 weeks of treatment, the platelet count was low in children from group II who had achieved SVR.
A mild decrease in hemoglobin levels and leukocyte and platelet counts during treatment with IFN and RBV in children with CHC infection may be factors responsible for SVR induction.
Hepatitis C; Child; Therapeutics
Pegylated (PEG)-interferon (IFN)-alfa-2a plus ribavirin (RBV) therapy for 24 weeks is now a standard treatment protocol for patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 2. As RBV cannot be used in certain situations, we examined whether PEG-IFN-alfa-2a monotherapy for 24 weeks or less would be sufficient to obtain a sustained virological response (SVR) in patients infected with HCV genotype 2.
Forty-nine consecutive patients with HCV genotype 2 received PEG-IFN-alfa-2a (180 μg/week) subcutaneously without oral RBV for 8-64 weeks. HCV RNA level was determined by COBAS AMPLICOR HCV Test, v2.0.
HCV RNA was equal to or less than 100 KIU/mL (defined as low viral load) in 15 of 49 patients, and the remaining 34 had HCV RNA above 100 KIU/mL (defined as high viral load). All 15 patients with low viral load achieved rapid virological response (RVR; HCV RNA negative at week 4), and also achieved SVR with an average treatment duration of 17.1 weeks. The 34 patients with high viral load were treated for 33.7 weeks on average, and 19 of them (55.9%) achieved RVR. The SVR rates of these patients were significantly higher in those with RVR than without RVR (16/19 vs. 6/15 p = 0.0074).
PEG-IFN-alfa-2a monotherapy for 24 weeks or less might be sufficient to treat selected patients with HCV genotype 2, especially those with low viral load and becoming negative for HCV RNA by week 4 of treatment.
Over the last decade, the standard of care for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C has been the combination of pegylated-interferon-alfa (PEG-IFN) and ribavirin (RBV) which results in sustained virological response (SVR) rates of 75%-85% in patients with genotypes 2 or 3 but only of 40%-50% in patients with genotype 1. Currently, there are rapid and continuous developments of numerous new agents against hepatitis C virus (HCV), which are the focus of this review. Boceprevir and telaprevir, two first-generation NS3/4A HCV protease inhibitors, have been recently licensed in several countries around the world to be used in combination with PEG-IFN and RBV for the treatment of genotype 1 patients. Boceprevir or telaprevir based triple regimens, compared with the PEG-IFN/RBV combination, improve the SVR rates by 25%-31% in treatment-naïve genotype 1 patients, by 40%-64% in prior relapsers, by 33%-45% in prior partial responders and by 24%-28% in prior null responders. At the same time, the application of response-guided treatment algorithms according to the on-treatment virological response results in shortening of the total therapy duration to only 24 wk in 45%-55% of treatment-naïve patients. There are, however, several challenges with the use of the new triple combinations in genotype 1 patients, such as the need for immediate results of HCV RNA testing using sensitive quantitative assays, new and more frequent adverse events (anemia and dysgeusia for boceprevir; pruritus, rash and anemia for telaprevir), new drug interactions and increasing difficulties in compliance. Moreover, the SVR rates are still poor in very difficult to treat subgroups of genotype 1 patients, such as null responders with cirrhosis, while there is no benefit for patients who cannot tolerate PEG-IFN/RBV or who are infected with non-1 HCV genotype. Many newer anti-HCV agents of different classes and numerous combinations are currently under evaluation with encouraging results. Preliminary data suggest that the treatment of chronic HCV patients with well tolerated combinations of oral agents without PEG-IFN is feasible and may lead to a universal HCV cure over the next 5-10 years.
Chronic hepatitis C; Pegylated interferon; Ribavirin; Protease inhibitors; Nucleos(t)ide analogue inhibitors; Non-nucleos(t)ide analogue inhibitors; Hepatitis C virus polymerase; NS5A inhibitors; Cyclophilin inhibitors
When combined with pegylated interferon alpha-2b (Peg-IFN α-2b) for the treatment of genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C (CHC) in Korea, the current guideline for the initial ribavirin (RBV) dose is based on body weight. However, since the mean body weight is lower for Korean patients than for patients in Western countries, current guidelines might result in Korean patients being overdosed with RBV.
We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of patients with genotype 1 CHC who were treated with Peg-IFN α-2b and RBV combination therapy. We divided the patients into groups A (≥15 mg/kg/day, n=23) and B (<15 mg/kg/day, n=26), given that the standard dose is 15 mg/kg/day. The clinical course in terms of the virologic response, adverse events, and dose modification rate was compared between the two groups after therapy completion.
The early response rates (92.0% vs. 83.3%, P=0.634) and sustained virologic response rates (82.6% vs. 73.1%, P=0.506) did not differ significantly between the two groups. During the treatment period, the RBV dose reduction rate was significantly higher in group A than in group B (60.9% vs. 23.1%, P=0.01).
RBV dose reduction is performed frequently when patients are treated according to the current Korean guidelines. Given that lowering the RBV dose did not appear to decrease the virologic response during therapy, reducing RBV doses below the current Korean guideline may be effective for treatment, especially in low-weight patients.
Ribavirin; Pegylated interferon alpha-2b; Chronic hepatitis C; Sustained virologic response; Koreans
The standard treatment for patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC), pegylated interferon-α (PEG-IFN) plus ribavirin (RBV) does not provide a sustained virological response (SVR) in all patients. Genetic variations at the interleukin 28B (IL-28B) locus are important in predicting outcome following therapy in CHC patients.
We investigated the role of IL28B variations (rs8099917) in response to PEG-IFN-α/RBV treatment and evaluated its association with the risk of the null virological response (NVR) and relapse (REL) in different viral genotypes. We found that the overall distributions of the genotype among the SVR, NVR, and REL groups were significantly different (P<0.001). Patients with the TG genotype had an increased risk of NVR and REL (OR=6.45 95% CI =2.88–14.47, P<0.001 for NVR; OR=2.51, 95% CI =1.29–4.86, P=0.006 for REL, respectively), and patients with the GG genotype had a further increased risk of NVR and REL (OR=12.04, 95% CI =3.21–45.13, P<0.001 for NVR; ,OR=4.30, 95% CI =1.21–15.13, P=0.017 for REL, respectively). G variant genotypes (TG+GG) also had an increased risk of NVR and REL, and there was a significant trend for a dose-effect of G allele on the risk of NVR and REL (P<0.05). The SVR rate in TT higher than in TG+GG was more pronounced in those patients infected with non-G1 compared to the patients infected with G1. The treatment response did differ based on the rs8099917 genotype in patients with different viral genotypes, compared with patients infected with the non-G1, the G1 infected patients had an increased risk of NVR and REL (OR=2.03 95% CI =1.03–4.01, P=0.04 for NVR and OR=2.58, 95% CI =1.35–4.94, P=0.004 for REL, respectively). Moreover, multivariate regression analysis show that the rs8099917 G allele was the only independent factor significantly associated with a NVR and REL.
This study suggests that host genetic polymorphisms rs8099917 in the vicinity of IL-28B is the most important predictor of treatment response of PEG-IFN-α/RBV for HCV patients in China.
IL-28B; Hepatitis C; Relapse; Sustained virological response; Treatment
AIM: To study the efficacy and factors associated with a sustained virological response (SVR) in chronic hepatitis C (CHC) relapsing patients.
METHODS: Out of 1228 CHC patients treated with pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) and ribavirin (RBV), 165 (13%) had a relapse. Among these, 62 patients were retreated with PEG-IFN-α2a or -α2b and RBV. Clinical, biological, virological and histological data were collected. Initial doses and treatment modifications were recorded. The efficacy of retreatment and predictive factors for SVR were analyzed.
RESULTS: An SVR was achieved in 42% of patients. SVR was higher in young (< 50 years) (61%) than old patients (27%) (P = 0.007), and in genotype 2 or 3 (57%) than in genotype 1 or 4 (28%) patients (P = 0.023). Prolonging therapy for at least 24 wk more than the previous course was associated with higher SVR rates (53% vs 28%, P = 0.04). Also, a better SVR rate was observed with RBV dose/body weight > 15.2 mg/kg per day (70% vs 35%, P = 0.04). In logistic regression, predictors of a response were age (P = 0.018), genotype (P = 0.048) and initial RBV dose/body weight (P = 0.022). None of the patients without a complete early virological response achieved an SVR (negative predictive value = 100%).
CONCLUSION: Retreatment with PEG-IFN/RBV is eff-ective in genotype 2 or 3 relapsers, especially in young patients. A high dose of RBV seems to be important for the retreatment response.
Chronic hepatitis C; Relapse; Retreatment; Ribavirin; Pegylated interferon
Chronic hepatitis C (CHC) Patients, infected with genotype (GT) 2 or 3 are treated with Peg-IFN and ribavirin (RBV) (800 mg/day) for 24 weeks. Treatment duration can be shortened to 12-16 weeks if a higher dose of RBV (1.000/1.200 mg/day) was used without considerable loss of responsiveness or increased risk of relapse. Previously we have shown that in patients with CHC, GT 2/3 RBV can be reduced to 400 mg/day if administered for 24 weeks without an increase in relapse rates. Therefore we investigated the efficacy of a reduced RBV dosage of 400 mg/day with shorter treatment duration (16 weeks).
Treatment naïve patients with CHC, GT 2/3 were randomized to receive 180 μg peginterferonα2a/week in combination with either 800 (group C) or 400 mg/d (group D) for 16 weeks. The primary endpoint was SVR.
12 months after the first patient was randomized a inferior outcome of group D as compared to group C was noted, therefore the study was terminated. At study termination 89 patients were enrolled (group C: 31, D: 51). The SVR rate was statistically different in the two study groups with 51.6% in group C and 28.4% in group D (p = 0.038). Patients with low viral load had higher SVR rates (C: 67%, D: 33%) than those with high viral load (C: 33%, D: 21%).
Both treatment duration and the dose of RBV play a major role to optimize outcome of patients with GT3. If one intends to shorten the treatment weight based RBV dose should be used, if lower RBV doses are used patients should be treated for at least 24 weeks as. A treatment regimen with a reduced RBV dosage and shortened treatment duration is associated with low SVR rates due to high relapse rates.
Hepatitis C; treatment duration; Ribavirin dose; genotype 2 and 3; randomized controlled trial
Latent autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) triggered during interferon (IFN) treatment in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) is well known. Here, we report for the first time improvement of AIH using IFN and ribavirin (RBV) in a patient initially incorrectly diagnosed as having CHC.
32 years old female was referred because of fluctuating elevations of aminotransferases (AT) (4- to 19-fold normal) known last 6 months. She had positive HCV-RNA by RT-PCR an untypable genotype. Liver biopsy revealed chronic active hepatitis grade 2, stage 2. She also had Hashimoto´s thyroiditis with high titres of antithyroid antibodies. After 12 weeks of treatment with Intron A 3MU TIW and RBV 1000 mg/d, HCV RNA was negative and AT fluctuated between normal and 2-fold normal. One week after completing 48 weeks of treatment, AT showed 11-fold increase, but HCV remained negative. Indirect immunofluorescence became positive for ASMA (3+) and ANA (4+). A repeated liver biopsy showed no improvement. A therapeutic trial with RBV was started and within 11 weeks of this treatment her symptoms markedly improved and AT decreased to 2-fold. Unfortunately, cessation of RBV resulted in immediate reversion of symptoms and elevation of AT to its previous state. After restarting RBV therapy no response was observed within 2 weeks and the treatment was stopped. She was then put on prednisone 30 mg/d and azathioprine 50 mg/d. Within 6 weeks her symptoms resolved and AT and IgG became completely normal. The patient remains in remission with prednisone 5 mg and azathioprine 50 mg/d. A re-evaluation of the primary diagnosis of hepatitis C was warranted because of unusually high AT activity and repeatedly negative anti-HCV using a third generation assay.
This case may provide support for the hypothesis that RBV may dampen autoimmune reaction induced by IFN alpha and potentiate its anti-inflammatory effects.
Combined pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN)+ribavirin (RBV) therapy has been used as a primary treatment for chronic hepatitis C. However, IFN-induced autoimmune disease, including type 1 diabetes mellitus, has been highlighted as one of the problems with this therapy. Here we report the case of a patient who developed type 1 diabetes mellitus during combined PEG-IFN+RBV therapy for hepatitis C but who showed no exacerbation of diabetes despite continued use of IFN. A 63-year-old man with chronic hepatitis C and a nonresponder to previous IFNα treatments, was admitted to our hospital because of excessive thirst, polydipsia, and polyuria 24 weeks after the start of PEG-IFNα+RBV therapy. High levels of blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin and low levels of C-peptide and immunoreactive insulin were observed. The serum antiglutamic acid decarboxylase antibody titer was 27,700 U/mL. We diagnosed IFN-induced type 1 diabetes mellitus; however PEG-IFNα+RBV therapy was continued for 48 weeks. Serum HCV remains negative five years after this treatment. Intensive insulin therapy was started immediately after the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Although the patient initially required 22 U/day of insulin, the dosage could be gradually reduced after completion of PEG-IFNα+RBV therapy and blood glucose remained well controlled. Prediction of onset of type 1 diabetes mellitus on the basis of baseline measurement of pancreas-associated autoantibodies is difficult. Therefore, it would be advisable to consider the possibility of onset of type 1 diabetes mellitus in all patients receiving IFN+RBV therapy.
type 1 diabetes mellitus; pegylated interferon; ribavirin; hepatitis C
The aims of this phase III study were to assess the efficacy and safety of telaprevir in combination with peginterferon alfa-2b (PEG-IFN) and ribavirin (RBV) for difficult-to-treat patients who had not achieved sustained virological response (SVR) to prior regimens in Japan. The subjects were 109 relapsers (median age of 57.0 years) and 32 nonresponders (median age of 57.5 years) with hepatitis C virus genotype 1. Patients received telaprevir (750 mg every 8 h) for 12 weeks and PEG-IFN/RBV for 24 weeks. The SVR rates for relapsers and nonresponders were 88.1% (96/109) and 34.4% (11/32), respectively. Specified dose modifications of RBV that differed from that for the standard of care were introduced to alleviate anaemia. RBV dose reductions were used for 139 of the 141 patients. The SVR rates for relapsers did not depend on RBV dose reduction for 20–100% of the planned dose (SVR rates 87.5–100%, P < 0.05). Skin disorders were observed in 82.3% (116/141). Most of the skin disorders were controllable by anti-histamine and/or steroid ointments. The ratios of discontinuation of telaprevir only or of all the study drugs because of adverse events were 21.3% (30/141) and 16.3% (23/141), respectively. A frequent adverse event leading to discontinuation was anaemia. Telaprevir in combination with PEG-IFN/RBV led to a high SVR rate for relapsers and may offer a potential new therapy for nonresponders even with a shorter treatment period.
direct-acting antiviral; peginterferon; ribavirin; sustained virological response; treatment failure
BA Interferon (IFN)-based therapy for chronic hepatitis C (CHC) is associated with adverse hypersensitivity reactions (HRs). However, data on HRs to IFN in every-day clinical practice are lacking. We conducted a retrospective study to identify the incidence, management and outcome of such reactions.
A review of the electronic files of all CHC patients followed in our tertiary referral center from January 1990 to November 2010 was conducted to identify patients submitted to IFN-based treatment and HRs to such treatment.
During the study period, 832 CHC patients were identified, 545 (65.5%) of whom received IFN-based treatment. Overall, 221 (40.5%) patients received at least one treatment cycle with IFN-a ± ribavirin (RBV), 170 (31.2%) patients received at least one treatment cycle with pegylated (PEG)-IFN a2a + RBV and 189 (34.7%) patients received at least one treatment cycle with PEG-IFN a2b + RBV. Fifty-five treatment cycles were complicated by HRs in 54 patients (female 20, median age 39 years, range 22–65 years). Presenting symptoms of HRs were: skin rash in 46 patients (pruritic in 20), generalized pruritus in 7 patients and aphthous mucosal ulcers in 2 patients. HRs occurred in 9 patients treated with IFN-a (4.1%), 23 patients treated with PEG-IFN a2a (13.5%) and 23 patients treated with PEG-IFN a2b (12.1%) (P = 0.002). Management of HRs included no intervention in 18 (32.7%) cases, topical treatment in 10 (18.2%) cases, antihistamine administration in 15 (27.3%) cases, temporary cessation of treatment or dose reduction in 3 (5.5%) cases, switch from PEG-IFN to IFN-a in 4 (7.3%) cases and immediate termination of treatment in 5 (9.1%) cases. The outcome was complete remission of the HR in 33 (60%) cases, remission sufficient to allow continuation of treatment in 13 (23.6%) cases and treatment termination in 8 (14.5%) cases, while one (1.8%) patient was lost to follow-up after the HR. Overall, 2 (0.9%) patients discontinued IFN-a, 3 (1.8%) PEG-IFN a2a and 3 (1.6%) PEG-IFN a2b due to HRs (P = 0.737).
Hypersensitivity reactions to IFN-based and especially to PEG-IFN based treatment regimens are occasionally encountered in CHC patients and may rarely lead to treatment termination.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:
To analyze whether rapid myelosuppression and a decrease in alanine aminotransferase (ALT) induced by standard interferon (IFN) and ribavirin (RBV) combination therapy predict a sustained viral response (SVR) in hepatitis C virus patients.
PATIENTS AND METHODS:
Data from 111 patients (mean age 48.1 years) with chronic hepatitis C virus were retrospectively analyzed. All patients were treated with the same initial doses of IFN and RBV combination therapy. The following laboratory values were measured at baseline, and then at weeks 2, 4, 8, 12 and 24 of treatment: hemoglobin, white blood cells (WBCs), neutrophils, platelets and ALT. A delta value was then calculated for each interval from baseline (baseline values minus two weeks, etc). The delta value of each variable was then compared between the responders and nonresponders using Wilcoxon’s signed rank test.
Sixty patients (54%) achieved an SVR. There were no significant differences between the responder and nonresponder groups for baseline variables. The delta value of ALT was the only significant marker in the prediction of an SVR. The mean ± SD delta values for the ALT at week 2 of treatment were 71±92 U/L and 44±85 U/L for the responders and nonresponders, respectively (P<0.0046). At week 4, the values were 101±96 U/L and 84±100 U/L for the responders and nonresponders, respectively (P<0.0154). The decline was then calculated for the ALT as a percentage decrease from baseline: at weeks 2 and 4, the decreases were 64% and 66%, respectively, for the responders, and 43% and 41%, respectively, for the nonresponders. At week 2, the delta values for WBC count were found to be significant in predicting failure to achieve an SVR, with mean ± SD delta values of 0.85× 109/L±1.48× 109/L and 1.53× 109/L±2.16× 109/L for the responders and nonresponders, respectively (P<0.0173). The same trend emerged at two weeks for neutrophils: 0.72× 109/L±1.33× 109/L for the responders and 1.02× 109/L±1.20× 109/L for the nonresponders (P<0.0150). The delta values were insignificant for hemoglobin, lowest hemoglobin values and platelets.
The decline rates of ALT from baseline to week 2 and 4 of IFN and RBV combination therapy are good predictors of an SVR. A significant drop in WBC and neutrophil values is a predictor of failure to achieve an SVR. The hemoglobin, platelets and lowest hemoglobin values failed to predict an SVR.
ALT; Biochemistry; Hepatitis C; Interferon; Myelosuppression; Ribavirin
Patients with chronic hepatitis C genotype 1 (HCV-1) and difficult-to-treat characteristics respond poorly to pegylated interferon alfa and ribavirin (RBV), and could benefit from an interferon with increased activity (consensus interferon or CIFN), favorable viral kinetics from daily dosing, and a longer duration of therapy. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine the efficacy and safety of daily CIFN + RBV for initial treatment of patients with HCV-1 infection.
Patients with difficult-to-treat characteristics (92% male, 33% African American, 78% Veterans Affairs [VA]; 67% high viral load, 59% stage 3–4 fibrosis, and mean weight of 204 lbs) were enrolled at seven VA and two community medical centers. They were randomized to daily CIFN (15 mcg/day SQ) and RBV (1–1.2 g/d PO) given for either 52 weeks (group A, n = 33) or 52–72 weeks (from time of viral response +48 weeks) (group B, n = 31).
Intention to treat analysis for treatment groups A and B demonstrated 33% (11/33) and 32% (10/31) sustained virologic response (SVR), respectively. Only 2/31 patients in group B received more than 52 weeks of treatment. The overall group demonstrated a 31% (20/64) rapid virologic response rate (RVR), 54% (34/64) end of treatment virologic response and a 33% (21/64) SVR. Patients with RVR at 4 weeks, early virologic response from 8–12 weeks, and late virologic response from 16–24 weeks demonstrated SVR of 75% (15/20), 31% (4/13), and 22% (2/9), respectively. Overall early non-protocol discontinuation occurred in 26/64 (40%) patients.
Daily CIFN and ribavirin for initial treatment of HCV-1 patients has potential for achieving a relatively high RVR rate, but discontinuations are frequent and successful use of this regimen is highly dependent on adequate patient support to maintain adherence.
Consensus interferon; Hepatitis C; Ribavirin; Veterans Affairs
Although chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has been treated with the combination of interferon alpha (IFN-α) and ribavirin (RBV) for over a decade, the mechanism of antiviral synergy is not well understood. We aimed to determine the synergistic antiviral mechanisms of IFN-α and RBV combination treatment using HCV cell culture.
The antiviral efficacy of IFN-α, RBV alone and in combination was quantitatively measured using HCV infected and replicon cell culture. Direct antiviral activity of these two drugs at the level of HCV internal ribosome entry site (IRES) mediated translation in Huh-7 cell culture was investigated. The synergistic antiviral effect of IFN-α and RBV combination treatment was verified using both the CalcuSyn Software and MacSynergy Software.
RBV combination with IFN-α efficiently inhibits HCV replication cell culture. Our results demonstrate that IFN-α, interferon lambda (IFN-λ) and RBV each inhibit the expression of HCV IRES-GFP and that they have a minimal effect on the expression of GFP in which the translation is not IRES dependent. The combination treatments of RBV along with IFN-α or IFN-λ were highly synergistic with combination indexes <1. We show that IFN-α treatment induce levels of PKR and eIF2α phosphorylation that prevented ribosome loading of the HCV IRES-GFP mRNA. Silencing of PKR expression in Huh-7 cells prevented the inhibitory effect of IFN-α on HCV IRES-GFP expression. RBV also blocked polyribosome loading of HCV-IRES mRNA through the inhibition of cellular IMPDH activity, and induced PKR and eIF2α phosphorylation. Knockdown of PKR or IMPDH prevented RBV induced HCV IRES-GFP translation.
We demonstrated both IFN-α and RBV inhibit HCV IRES through prevention of polyribosome formation. The combination of IFN-α and RBV treatment synergistically inhibits HCV IRES translation via using two different mechanisms involving PKR activation and depletion of intracellular guanosine pool through inhibition of IMPDH.
Approximately 170 million people worldwide are chronically infected by hepatitis C virus (HCV), which can result in progressive hepatic injury and fibrosis, culminating in cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease. The benchmark therapy for untreated HCV patients is a combination of pegylated interferon-alpha (PEG-IFN) and ribavirin (RBV). Several studies have suggested several potential new approaches to improve HCV therapy-optimization of the dose and duration of RBV therapy, accompanied by careful clinical management, is crucial in ensuring the greatest likelihood of a long response to therapy. RBV causes serious side effects, but in clinical practice, there are no alternatives for the treatment of HCV infection. Based on our results, weight-based doses of RBV are advantageous for genotype 1-infected patients, but its success in genotype 2- and 3-infected patients is unknown, particularly for shorter treatment durations.
Hepatitis C virus; Ribavirin; dose-response
Since 1986, interferon-alfa (IFN-α) monotherapy has been administered for patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC). However, sustained response rate is only about 8% to 9%. Subsequent introduction of ribavirin in combination with IFN-α was a major breakthrough in the treatment of CHC. Sustained virological responses (SVRs) rate is about 30% in hepatitis C virus genotype 1 (HCV-1) patients, and is about 65% in HCV-2 or -3 patients. After 2000, pegylated interferon (PegIFN) much improved the rates of SVR. Presently, PegIFN-α-ribavirin combination therapy has been current standard of care for patients infected with HCV. In patients with HCV-1, treatment for 48 weeks is optimal, but 24 weeks of treatment is sufficient in HCV-2 or -3 infected patients. Clinical factors have been identified as predictors for the efficacy of the IFN-based therapy. The baseline factor most strongly predictive of an SVR is the presence of HCV-2 or -3 infections. Rapid virological response (RVR) is the single best predictor of an SVR to PegIFN-ribavirin therapy. If patients can't achieve a RVR but achieve a complete early virological response (cEVR), treatment with current standard of care can provide more than 90% SVR rate. HCV-1 patients who do not achieve an EVR should discontinue the therapy. Recent advances of protease inhibitor may contribute the development of a novel triple combination therapy.
Pegylated-interferon (PEG-IFN) and ribavirin (RBV), current standard treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, is frequently associated with neutropenia and anemia, leading to high treatment discontinuation rates in HIV/HCV coinfected patients. Our objective was to compare the effectiveness of intervening with hematologic growth factors versus dose reductions of standard HCV therapy for the management of treatment-induced hematologic disorders.
Ninety-two HIV/HCV coinfected, therapy-naive subjects received PEG-IFN alfa-2b 1.5 μg/kg/wk and RBV 13 ± 2 mg/kg/day for up to 48 weeks. Before treatment initiation, subjects were randomized to subsequently receive growth factors, recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) and/or granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), or dose reduction (RBV and/or PEG-IFN) for anemia and neutropenia management, respectively. We analyzed the ability of each management strategy to control anemia and neutropenia and the percentage of subjects who achieved a successful treatment outcome among subjects according to the different management strategies.
During treatment, 43 subjects developed anemia (HuEPO, n=24; dose reduction, n=19) while 25 subjects developed neutropenia (G-CSF, n=10; dose reduction, n=15). Following the intervention, the increase in both hemoglobin and absolute neutrophil counts also did not differ between the two side effect management strategies. Sustained response percentages were similar comparing anemic and neutropenic subjects regardless of management strategy (anemia: rHuEPO, 29% versus dose reduction, 21%, p=0.92; neutropenia: G-CSF, 40% versus dose reduction, 20%, p=0.46).
Growth factor supplementation and dose reduction do not appear to differ as management strategies for anemia and neutropenia in HIV/HCV co-infected individuals treated with PEG-IFN/RBV.
Hepatitis C virus/HIV coinfection; anemia; neutropenia; recombinant human erythropoietin; granulocyte colony stimulating factor
An essential task in a genomic analysis of a human disease is limiting the number of strongly associated genes when studying susceptibility to the disease. The goal of this study was to compare computational tools with and without feature selection for predicting osteoporosis outcome in Taiwanese women based on genetic factors such as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). To elucidate relationships between osteoporosis and SNPs in this population, three classification algorithms were applied: multilayer feedforward neural network (MFNN), naive Bayes, and logistic regression. A wrapper-based feature selection method was also used to identify a subset of major SNPs. Experimental results showed that the MFNN model with the wrapper-based approach was the best predictive model for inferring disease susceptibility based on the complex relationship between osteoporosis and SNPs in Taiwanese women. The findings suggest that patients and doctors can use the proposed tool to enhance decision making based on clinical factors such as SNP genotyping data.
Background & Aims
Patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections are treated with pegylated interferon and ribavirin (PEG-IFN/RBV), which is effective in less than 50% of those infected with HCV genotype 1. Genome-wide association studies have linked response to PEG-IFN/RBV with common single nucleotide polymorphisms in the vicinity of IFN-λ genes on chromosome 19. We investigated the association between the polymorphism rs12979860 and treatment response in a diverse cohort of chronic HCV patients.
A cross-sectional study was performed using data from 1021 consecutive patients enrolled in the Duke Hepatology Clinic Research Database and Biorepository. We analyzed DNA, clinical, and demographic data, along with validated data of the response of 231 subjects to PEG-IFN/RBV. The study included Caucasians (n=178), African Americans (n=53), and HCV genotypes 1 (n=186) and 2/3 (n=45). The rs12979860 genotype was tested for an association with sustained virologic response, defined as undetectable levels of HCV RNA 24 weeks after treatment ended.
The rs12979860 CC genotype (found in ~40% of Caucasians) predicted a sustained virologic response to therapy among Caucasians (odds ratio 5.79; 95% confidence interval 2.67–12.57; p=9.0 × 10-6), independent of HCV genotype and other covariates. Rs12979860 CC predicted a sustained response with 78% specificity and 65% sensitivity in patients infected with HCV genotype 1—better than HCV genotype (currently used to predict treatment response).
rs12979860 genotype is a significant independent predictor of response to PEG-IFN/RBV in patients with chronic HCV infection; tests for this genotype might be used to determine the best course of treatment for patients considering antiviral therapy.
pharmacogenetic; interferon lambda; viral load; single nucleotide polymorphism
More than 50% of hepatitis C viruses (HCV)-infected patients do not respond to the classical Interferon (IFN)/Ribavirin (RBV) combination therapy. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of retreatment with Peg-Interferon alpha-2b (PEG-IFN alpha-2b) plus RBV, in patients with HCV, genotypes 1 or 3, who were non-responders to the previous standard treatment with IFN/RBV.
In the period 2005-2007, a total of 238 HCV chronic patients were non-responders to previous treatment with IFN plus RBV. Of these 130 agreed to be retreated with PEG-IFN alpha-2b and participated in this evaluation (90 with genotype 1 HCV and 40 with genotype 3 HCV). Patients were retreated at assisted IFN application hubs in compliance with the country's public health system rules. They received subcutaneous PEG-IFN alpha-2b, 1.5 μg, once weekly, associated with RBV, through the oral route, with doses determined according to weight (1,000 mg if weight ≤ 75 kg and 1,250 mg if > 75 kg). Patients with genotype 1 HCV were retreated for over 48 weeks and patients with genotype 3 HCV for over 24 weeks. HCV-RNA was tested by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) at baseline, at week 12, at the end of the treatment, and 6 months thereafter. The predictiveness of week 12 in the development of a sustained virologic response (SVR) was also evaluated. Patients with negative HCV-RNA at week 12 were considered as early virologic responders (EVR).
EVR was observed in 25% of the patients with genotype 1 HCV and in 64% of the patients genotype 3 HCV (risk = 2.075 and p-value = 0.0414). SVR was observed in 22.2% of the patients with genotype 1 HCV and in 40% with genotype 3 HCV (intention-to-treat analysis). The positive predictive value (PPV) of the HCV-RNA testing at week 12, in order to obtain the SVR, was 65% for genotype 1 and 56% for genotype 3, and the negative predictive value (NPV) was 88% for genotype 1 and 89% for genotype 3.
PEG-IFN alpha-2b plus weight-based ribavirin is effective in re-treating previous interferon-α plus RBV failure; 22.2% of the patients with genotype 1 HCV and 40% of patients with genotype 3 HCV achieved SVR.
Xerostomia is a common adverse event of unknown etiology observed during pegylated interferon (PegIFN)/Ribavirin (Rbv) treatment.
To assess the frequency and mechanisms of xerostomia during PegIFN/Rbv therapy.
Patients and Methods
Thirty-one naïve patients with chronic hepatitis C consecutively received PegIFN-α2a (180 μg/week) plus Rbv (800–1200 mg/day). The controls were 10 patients with chronic hepatitis B who received PegIFN-α2a (180 μg/week). During treatment and follow-up, all patients underwent basal and masticatory stimulated sialometry,otorhinolaryngoiatric (ORL) examination, and a questionnaire survey to subjectively assess symptoms of oral dryness.
Twenty-seven patients on PegIFN/Rbv and 4 on PegIFN (87% vs. 40%, P = 0.006) reported xerostomia. Thirty patients on PegIFN/Rbv combination therapy and 2 patients on monotherapy had ORL signs of salivary gland hypofunction (97% vs. 20%, P < 0.0001).Mean basal (A) and stimulated (B) salivary flow rates (mL/min) progressively decreased during PegIFN/Rbv treatment (A, 0.49 at baseline vs. 0.17 at the end of treatment, P < 0.0001; B, 1.24 at baseline vs. 0.53 at the end of treatment, P = 0.0004). At week 24 following PegIFN/Rbv treatment, salivary flow rates were similar to baseline (A, 0.53 at the end of follow-up vs. 0.49 at baseline; B, 1.19 at the end of follow-up vs. 1.24 at baseline). Salivary function was unaffected in monotherapy patients.
Rbv causes salivary gland hypofunction in hepatitis C patients receiving PegIFN/Rbv therapy, which promptly reverts to normal upon cessation of treatment.
Ribavirin; Peginterferon Alfa-2a; Salivary Glands; Hepatitis C; Hepatitis B
Many individuals infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) develop a chronic infection, and of those who are treated with pegylated interferon and ribavirin (RBV), many do not respond. While the nucleoside analog RBV improves treatment outcome, and will likely be an important component of therapy with next-generation viral inhibitors, RBV's mechanism is controversial. Most of RBV's proposed mechanisms require RBV import into cells. Therefore, we explored whether host-based RBV resistance develops through reduced cellular uptake, akin to chemotherapy resistance in some cancers. We examined the effect of host-based RBV resistance on HCV replication in cultured hepatoma Huh7.5 liver cells and whether RBV resistance develops in HCV patients. When Huh7.5 cells were exposed to RBV, resistance developed through reduced RBV uptake via the ENT1 nucleoside transporter and antiviral efficacy was reduced. The uptake defect in RBV-resistant cells was specific to RBV, since transport of another ENT1 substrate, cytidine, was unaffected. Importantly, RBV uptake significantly declined in HCV patient peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) following 4 weeks of therapy. Furthermore, maintenance of RBV uptake correlated with rapid treatment response. Our results uncovered a novel form of antiviral drug resistance and suggest that host-based RBV resistance develops in HCV patients undergoing therapy and that maintenance of RBV uptake may contribute to rapid viral clearance.
Pegylated-interferon plus ribavirin (PEG-IFN/RBV) therapy is a current standard treatment for chronic hepatitis C. We previously reported that the viral sequence heterogeneity of part of NS5A, referred to as the IFN/RBV resistance-determining region (IRRDR), and a mutation at position 70 of the core protein of hepatitis C virus genotype 1b (HCV-1b) are significantly correlated with the outcome of PEG-IFN/RBV treatment. Here, we aimed to investigate the impact of viral genetic variations within the NS5A and core regions of other genotypes, HCV-2a and HCV-2b, on PEG-IFN/RBV treatment outcome. Pretreatment sequences of NS5A and core regions were analyzed in 112 patients infected with HCV-2a or HCV-2b, who were treated with PEG-IFN/RBV for 24 weeks and followed up for another 24 weeks. The results demonstrated that HCV-2a isolates with 4 or more mutations in IRRDR (IRRDR[2a]≥4) was significantly associated with rapid virological response at week 4 (RVR) and sustained virological response (SVR). Also, another region of NS5A that corresponds to part of the IFN sensitivity-determining region (ISDR) plus its carboxy-flanking region, which we referred to as ISDR/+C[2a], was significantly associated with SVR in patients infected with HCV-2a. Multivariate analysis revealed that IRRDR[2a]≥4 was the only independent predictive factor for SVR. As for HCV-2b infection, an N-terminal half of IRRDR having two or more mutations (IRRDR[2b]/N≥2) was significantly associated with RVR, but not with SVR. No significant correlation was observed between core protein polymorphism and PEG-IFN/RBV treatment outcome in HCV-2a or HCV-2b infection. Conclusion: The present results suggest that sequence heterogeneity of NS5A of HCV-2a (IRRDR[2a]≥4 and ISDR/+C[2a]), and that of HCV-2b (IRRDR[2b]/N≥2) to a lesser extent, is involved in determining the viral sensitivity to PEG-IFN/RBV therapy.
Depression is a frequent side effect of interferon therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC). The aim of this study was to identify baseline and on-treatment predictors of depression in CHC patients receiving peginterferon and ribavirin.
201 prior nonresponders with advanced fibrosis were treated with peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin for 24 weeks in the Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-term Treatment against Cirrhosis trial. Of these, 74 continued on antiviral therapy through week 48. Mood states were assessed with the Beck Depression Inventory II and the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Plasma cortisol and whole blood serotonin levels were measured in 101 subjects at weeks 0, 4, 24, 48 and 72.
The incidence of interferon-induced depression was 23% and 42% at weeks 24 and 48, respectively. Although 22% of patients had baseline depression, the absence of a week 20 virological response was the only independent predictor of interferon-induced depression at week 24 (p= 0.0009). Plasma cortisol levels did not change during treatment nor correlate with depression. In contrast, whole blood serotonin/platelet levels significantly decreased during treatment but did not correlate with interferon-induced depression through week 24 (p=0.35) nor through week 48 (p = 0.51).
Depression during peginterferon and ribavirin therapy was associated with a lower antiviral response. The significant reduction in whole blood serotonin levels over time suggest that further studies of the serotonergic pathway are warranted to identify the mediators of interferon-induced depression.