Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the most common blood-borne virus in the United States. Several mono- and combination therapies have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of HCV, but their routes of administration, dosing approaches, eras of introduction, and actual use in clinical practice and resulting effectiveness have not yet been reported.
The aim of this article was to characterize clinical use and virologic response (VR) of the HCV treatments interferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin (IFN + RBV) and peginterferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin (peg-IFN + RBV).
This retrospective chart review of office-based practices in theUnited States was conducted at 200 physicians' offices across the United States. We collected data concerning dosing patterns, VR (HCV RNA load, ≤1000 IU/mL or “negative” on polymerase chain reaction qualitative analysis), and adverse events (AEs) from the medical records of a geographically diverse sample of patients receiving treatment for chronic HCV infection in the United States from July 2001 to June 2002. For efficacy assessment, factors that were statistically different at baseline were adjusted using logistic regression. Providers also reviewed the medical records for symptoms or signs consistent with HCV treatment-related AEs.
Data from the records of 675 patients (423 men, 252 women; mean [SD] age of 45.5 [8.2] years; mean [SD] body weight, 80.8 [19.4] kg) were analyzed. At baseline, the IFN + RBV treatment group (330 patients) had significantly higher percentages of black patients (22.1% vs 15.7%; P = 0.032) and patients with hepatic disease based on clinician-reported cirrhosis and liver dysfunction (18.8% vs 9.9%; P < 0.001), and a significantly lower percentage of white patients (60.3% vs 69.6%; P = 0.012) compared with the peg-IFN + RBV treatment group (345 patients). The difference in log-transformed baseline HCV RNA loads between the 2 treatment groups in this study was <1 log unit. A significantly higher percentage of IFN + RBV-treated patients compared with peg-IFN + RBV-treated patients were prescribed HCV therapy on diagnosis (37.3% vs 29.9%; P = 0.041), and the mean (SD) duration of treatment was significantly different between the 2 treatment groups (52.5 [37.0] vs 27.5 [15.0] weeks; P < 0.001). Peg-IFN + RBV was associated with a higher rate of VR compared with IFN + RBV on univariate analysis (28.5% vs 17.5%; P = 0.018). Recommended doses of peg-IFN and higher-than-recommended doses of RBV were associated with an increased likelihood of VR. Higher-than-recommended doses of peg-IFN without a concomitant increase in RBV was not associated with an increased likelihood of VR. The incidences of the 3 most commonly reported AEs in the IFN + RSV group were significantly higher compared with those in the peg-IFN + RSV group: fatigue, 217 (65.8%) versus 185 (53.6%) patients (P = 0.001); depression, 147 (44.5%) versus 120 (34.8%) (P = 0.009); and anxiety, 87 (26.4%) versus 64 (18.6%) (P = 0.014). Nausea, however, was reported in a significantly higher number of patients in the peg-IFN group compared with the IFN + RBV group (74 [21.4%] vs 51 [15.5%]; P = 0.045). The frequencies of dose modification and treatment discontinuation due to AEs were similar between the 2 treatments and were similar to or less than those reported in other studies.
In this retrospective data analysis of US office-based practicesconcerning HCV treatment, clinicians were observed to prescribe IFN + RBV at doses that differ from recommendations in the product information (PI), as well as prescribe the RBV component of peg-IFN + RBV at doses that differed from PI recommendations. Although patients treated with peg-IFN + RBV appeared to achieve higher VR compared with those treated with IFN + RBV in our analysis of data from clinical practice, peg-IFN + RBV was associated with lower VR rates compared with those reported in clinical studies.
hepatitis C; pegylated interferon; interferon alfa-2b and ribavirin; ribavirin; dosing; outcomes
Recent studies of CH-C patients have demonstrated a strong association between IL28B CC genotype and sustained virologic response (SVR) after PEG-IFN/RBV treatment. We aimed to assess whether IL28B alleles rs12979860 genotype influences gene expression in response to PEG-IFN/RBV in CH-C patients.
Clinical data and gene expression data were available for 56 patients treated with PEG-IFN/RBV. Whole blood was used to determine IL28B genotypes. Differential expression of 153 human genes was assessed for each treatment time point (Days: 0, 1, 7, 28, 56) and was correlated with IL28B genotype (IL28B C/C or non-C/C) over the course of the PEG-IFN/RBV treatment. Genes with statistically significant changes in their expression at each time point were used as an input for pathway analysis using KEGG Pathway Painter (KPP). Pathways were ranked based on number of gene involved separately per each study cohort.
The most striking difference between the response patterns of patients with IL28B C/C and T* genotypes during treatment, across all pathways, is a sustained pattern of treatment-induced gene expression in patients carrying IL28B C/C. In the case of IL28B T* genotype, pre-activation of genes, the lack of sustained pattern of gene expression or a combination of both were observed. This observation could potentially provide an explanation for the lower rate of SVR observed in these patients. Additionally, when the lists of IL28B genotype-specific genes which were differentially expressed in patients without SVR were compared at their baseline, IRF2 and SOCS1 genes were down-regulated regardless of patients' IL28B genotype. Furthermore, our data suggest that CH-C patients who do not have the SOCS1 gene silenced have a better chance of achieving SVR. Our observations suggest that the action of SOCS1 is independent of IL28B genotype.
IL28B CC genotype patients with CH-C show a sustained treatment-induced gene expression profile which is not seen in non-CC genotype patients. Silencing of SOCS1 is a negative and independent predictor of SVR. These data may provide some mechanistic explanation for higher rate of SVR in IL28B CC patients who are treated with PEG-IFN/RBV.
HCV; Gene Expression; Pathway Analysis; IL28B; SOCS1; IRF2; chronic hepatitis C; HCV treatment
1,25(OH)2 vitamin D3 can affect immune cells. However, the mechanism responsible for the favorable effects of 1(OH) vitamin D3, which becomes 1,25(OH)2 vitamin D3 in the liver, is not clear. The aim of this study is to analyze the immunological response of 1(OH) vitamin D3 supplementation in CH-C patients.
Forty-two CH-C patients were treated with 1(OH) vitamin D3/Peg-IFNα/RBV. Forty-two case-matched controls were treated with Peg-IFNα/RBV. The expression of Interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs)-mRNA in the liver biopsy samples and JFH-1 replicating Huh-7 cells were quantified by real-time PCR. Ten kinds of cytokines in the plasma were quantified during treatment by using a suspension beads array. A trans-well co-culture system with peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and Huh-7 cells was used to analyze the effect of 1(OH) vitamin D3. The activities of the Th1 response were compared between subjects treated with 1(OH) vitamin D3/Peg-IFN/RBV and those treated with Peg-IFN/RBV therapy alone.
1(OH) vitamin D3/Peg-IFN/RBV treatment could induce rapid viral reduction, especially in IL28B T/T polymorphism. Several kinds of cytokines including IP-10 were significantly decreased after 4 weeks of 1(OH) vitamin D3 treatment (p<0.05). Th1 responses in the subjects treated with 1(OH) vitamin D3/Peg-IFN/RBV were significantly higher than those treated with Peg-IFN/RBV at 12 weeks after Peg-IFN/RBV therapy (p<0.05). The expression of ISGs in the patient’s liver biopsy samples was significantly lower than in those treated without 1(OH) vitamin D3 (p<0.05).
1(OH) vitamin D3 could improve the sensitivity of Peg-IFN/RBV therapy on HCV-infected hepatocytes by reducing the IP-10 production from PBMCs and ISGs expression in the liver.
Genetic variation around interleukin-28B (IL28B), encoding IFN-λ3, predict non-responders to pegylated interferon-α/ribavirin (Peg-IFN/RBV) therapy in chronic hepatitis C (CHC). However, it remains unclear the expression and the role of IL28B itself. The aim of this study is to develop easy and useful methods for the prediction of treatment outcomes.
The mRNA and protein levels of IFN-λ3 induced by ex vivo stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) or magnetically selected dendritic cells (DCs) with toll-like receptor agonists (TLR3; poly I:C, TLR7; R-837) were measured by the quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and our newly developed chemiluminescence enzyme immunoassays, respectively, and compared with the clinical data.
We found that BDCA-4+ plasmacytoid and BDCA-3+ myeloid DCs were the main producers of IFN-λs when stimulated with R-837 and poly I:C, respectively. Detectable levels of IFN-λs were inducible even in a small amount of PBMC, and IFN-λ3 was more robustly up-regulated by R-837 in PBMC of CHC patients with favorable genotype for the response to Peg-IFN/RBV (TT in rs8099917) than those with TG/GG. Importantly, the protein levels of IFN-λ3 induced by R-837 clearly differentiated the response to Peg-IFN/RBV treatment (p = 1.0 × 10−10), including cases that IL28B genotyping failed to predict the treatment response. The measurement of IFN-λ3 protein more accurately predicted treatment efficacies (95.7 %) than that of IL28B genotyping (65.2 %).
Genetic variations around IL28B basically affect IFN-λ3 production, but different amounts of IFN-λ3 protein determines the outcomes of Peg-IFN/RBV treatment. This study, for the first time, presents compelling evidence that IL28B confer a functional phenotype.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00535-013-0814-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Chronic hepatitis C; IL28B; IFN-λ3; Peg-IFN/RBV
The efficacy of pegylated IFN-α and ribavirin (pegIFN/RBV) in the treatment of Hepatitis C infection is limited by psychiatric adverse effects (IFN-PE). Our study examined the ability of differential gene expression patterns prior to therapy to predict emergent IFN-PE among 28 HIV/HCV co-infected patients treated with pegIFN-α2b/RBV.
Patients dually infected with HIV and HCV were evaluated at baseline and during treatment by board-certified psychiatrists who classified patients into 2 groups: those who developed IFN-PE and those who did not (IFN-NPE). Gene expression analysis (Affymetrix HG-U133A) was performed using PBMCs before and after initiation of treatment. ANOVA, post hoc analysis based on pair-wise comparisons and functional annotation analysis identified differentially expressed genes within and between groups. Prediction Analysis for Microarrays was used to test the predictive ability of selected genes.
Twenty-four genes (16 up- and 8 down-regulated) that were differentially expressed at baseline in patients who subsequently developed IFN-PE compared to the IFN-NPE group showed the ability to predict IFN-PE with an accuracy of 82%. In 16 patients with IFN-PE, 135 genes (117 up-; 18 down-regulated) were significantly modulated following treatment. Of these, 10 genes have already been shown to be associated with neuropsychiatric illnesses and were significantly modulated only in patients who experienced IFN-PE.
We describe a novel molecular diagnostic biomarker panel to predict emergent IFN-PE in HIV/HCV-co-infected patients undergoing pegIFN/RBV treatment, which may improve the identification of patients at greatest risk for IFN-PE and suggest candidate therapeutic targets for preventing or treating IFN-PE.
HIV/HCV; peg-Interferon; psychiatric toxicities; gene expression; prediction
The most effective current therapy for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the combination of pegylated interferon (peg-IFN) plus ribavirin (RBV).
The aim of this retrospective analysis was to determine the rateof response to this therapy, and the factors affecting outcome, in patients with treatment-refractory chronic HCV genotype l b.
The records of patients with chronic HCV infection and HCV geno-type1b who failed (nonresponse or relapse) previous treatment with standard interferon (IFN) + RSV were retrospectively analyzed for demographic data, virologic load, liver histology, biochemistry, treatment-related adverse effects (AEs), and the effects of dose reduction during treatment with peg-IFN + RBV for 48 weeks. Early virologic response (EVR) was defined as ≥2-log (copies/mL) decrease from baseline in serum HCV RNA concentration or the absence of detectable serum HCV RNA at treatment week 12. End-of-treatment response (ETR) was defined as the absence of detectable serum HCV RNA at treatment week 48. Sustained virologic response (SVR) was defined as the absence of detectable serum HCV RNA 24 weeks after treatment was discontinued. Factors affecting treatment outcome were determined using correlation analyses.
Data from the files of 17 patients (12 men, 5 women; mean [SD] age, 48  years) were analyzed. EVR was achieved in 7 patients; however, viral breakthrough occurred in 2 of these patients during the treatment period, and 5 of these patients discontinued treatment because of severe treatment-related AEs (depression [1 patient] and neutropenia ). Seven patients achieved ETR, but HCV infection relapsed during the follow-up period. Three (18%) patients achieved SVR. Data concerning previous patterns of response to IFN + RBV therapy were available in 10 patients. Of these, 3 of 6 patients who had experienced relapse with the previous treatment achieved SVR with peg-IFN + RBV; neither of the 2 patients with nonresponse to the previous treatment achieved SVR. Major determinants of failure to reach SVR in these patients included previous nonresponder pattern, noncompliance with the therapy, and advanced-stage liver fibrosis. Tolerability was similar to that with the previous treatment.
In this study in patients with chronic HCV genotype lb infectionand a history of relapse or nonresponse to standard IFN + RSV treatment, treatment with peg-IFN + RBV achieved an SVR rate of 18%. Further research is needed to determine the role of peg-IFN + RBV in the re-treatment of HCV infection.
hepatitis C; treatment; nonresponders; ribavirin combination; pegylated interferon; treatment failure; retrospective
Ribavirin (RBV) remains part of several interferon-free treatment strategies even though its mechanisms of action are still not fully understood. One hypothesis is that RBV increases responsiveness to type I interferons. Pegylated Interferon alpha (PEG-IFNa) has recently been shown to alter natural killer (NK) cell function possibly contributing to control of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. However, the effects of ribavirin alone or in combination with IFNa on NK cells are unknown.
Extensive ex vivo phenotyping and functional analysis of NK cells from hepatitis C patients was performed during antiviral therapy. Patients were treated for 6 weeks with RBV monotherapy (n = 11), placebo (n = 13) or PEG-IFNa-2a alone (n = 6) followed by PEG-IFNa/RBV combination therapy. The effects of RBV and PEG-IFNa-2a on NK cells were also studied in vitro after co-culture with K562 or Huh7.5 cells.
Ribavirin monotherapy had no obvious effects on NK cell phenotype or function, neither ex vivo in patients nor in vitro. In contrast, PEG-IFNa-2a therapy was associated with an increase of CD56bright cells and distinct changes in expression profiles leading to an activated NK cell phenotype, increased functionality and decline of terminally differentiated NK cells. Ribavirin combination therapy reduced some of the IFN effects. An activated NK cell phenotype during therapy was inversely correlated with HCV viral load.
PEG-IFNa activates NK cells possibly contributing to virological responses independently of RBV. The role of NK cells during future IFN-free combination therapies including RBV remains to be determined.
Zinc has been reported to ameliorate hematologic side effects and improve liver function. In addition to its various effects, zinc supplementation in chronic hepatitis C patients with genotype 1b of high viral load enhanced the response to interferon (IFN) monotherapy. This study was aimed at clarifying whether zinc could improve hematologic side effects, improve liver function, and enhance the response to therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis C treated with pegylated-interferon (PEG-IFN) plus ribavirin (RBV).
The 32 patients enrolled in the study were randomly divided into two groups: a PEG-IFN-α2b plus RBV with zinc group (PEG/RBV + zinc, n = 16) and a PEG-IFN-α2b plus RBV group (PEG/RBV, n = 16). HCV-RNA, serum zinc, ALT, white blood cell, red blood cell, platelet, and hemoglobin (Hb) levels were examined.
Serum zinc levels were significantly higher in the PEG/RBV with zinc group than in the PEG/RBV without zinc group at 4, 8, and 12 weeks. No significant differences were observed in the clearance of HCV-RNA between the two groups. The outcome of the treatment was similar; results of laboratory examinations including ALT before, during, and after therapy revealed no significant differences between the two groups at any point in all items except serum zinc levels. A sustained virological response rate was observed in 50.0% in the PEG/RBV with zinc group and 43.8% in the PEG/RBV without zinc group, with no significant difference between the two groups.
The study demonstrated no evidence that zinc ameliorates hematologic side effects, improves liver function, and enhances the response to the therapy in chronic hepatitis C receiving PEG-IFN-α2b plus RBV.
Pegylated-interferon; Ribavirin; Zinc; Hematologic side effect; Chronic hepatitis C
Interferon (IFN)-alpha treatment for infectious disease and cancer causes high rates of depression and fatigue, and has been used to investigate the impact of inflammatory cytokines on brain and behavior. However, little is known about the transcriptional impact of chronic IFN-alpha on immune cells in vivo and its relationship to IFN-alpha-induced behavioral changes.
Genome-wide transcriptional profiling was performed on peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 21 patients with chronic hepatitis C either awaiting IFN-alpha therapy (n=10) or at 12 weeks of IFN-alpha treatment (n=11).
Significance analysis of microarray data identified 252 up-regulated and 116 down-regulated gene transcripts. Of up-regulated genes, 2'-5'-oligoadenylate synthetase 2 (OAS2), a gene linked to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), was the only gene that was differentially expressed in patients with IFN-alpha-induced depression/fatigue, and correlated with depression and fatigue scores at 12 weeks (r=0.80, p=0.003 and r=0.70, p=0.017, respectively). Promoter-based bioinformatic analyses linked IFN-alpha-related transcriptional alterations to transcription factors involved in myeloid differentiation, IFN-alpha signaling, AP1 and CREB/ATF pathways, which were derived primarily from monocytes and plasmacytoid dendritic cells. IFN-alpha-treated patients with high depression/fatigue scores demonstrated up-regulation of genes bearing promoter motifs for transcription factors involved in myeloid differentiation, IFN-alpha and AP1 signaling, and reduced prevalence of motifs for CREB/ATF, which has been implicated in major depression.
Depression and fatigue during chronic IFN-alpha administration were associated with alterations in the expression (OAS2) and transcriptional control (CREB/ATF) of genes linked to behavioral disorders including CFS and major depression, further supporting an immune contribution to these diseases.
interferon-alpha; gene array; RT-PCR; depression; fatigue; 2'-5'-oligoadenylate synthetase 2; CREB; ATF; TELiS; innate immunity
In Italy, anti-HCV drugs are provided free of charge by the National Health System. Since 2011, three drug regimens including a directly acting antiviral (DAA) are considered the gold standard for HCV treatment. However, these drugs add a significant cost (roughly €26,000) to the combination of pegylated-interferon-α/ribavirin (PEG-IFN/RBV), which before DAA represented the unique treatment. To provide the National Health System potential useful information, we estimated costs to provide anti-HCV drugs to treat a population experienced for PEG-INF/RBV.
Genotype 1 HCV mono-infected or HIV/HCV co-infected individuals who were treated with PEG-IFN/RBV between 2008 and 2013 were included. The cost to treat these patients with PEG-IFN/RBV was calculated (cost 1). We also estimated costs if we had to treat these patients with a lead-in period of PEG-INF/RBV followed by PEG-IFN/RBV and a DAA in naïves (cost 2), in addition to cost 1 plus the estimated cost to re-treat with PEG-IFN/RBV and a DAA patients who had a relapse or a non response (cost 3). Moreover, all costs were normalized by SVR. Rates of foreseen response with DAA were obtained from literature data.
The overall study population consisted of 104 patients. The rate of sustained virological response (SVR) was 55%, while it was estimated that SVR would be obtained in 75% of patients with a lead-in period with PEG-IFN/RBV followed by a DAA combination, and in 78% if this treatment is used to re-treat experienced patients with a DAA. Drug costs associated with these treatments were: €1,214,283 for cost 1, €3,474,977 for cost 2 and €3,002,095 for cost 3. Costs per SVR achieved were: €22,284 for cost 1, €44,643 for cost 2 and €38,322 for cost 3.
Treatments including DAAs achieve a SVR in more patients than PEG-IFN/RBV but they cost around three times more than PEG-IFN/RBV alone regimens. Also, cost per SVR is almost twofold greater than PEG-IFN/RBV regimens. Therefore, it is mandatory to implement use of DAA in clinical practice, but the National Health System should allocate adequate resources to provide drugs, which challenges sustainability. Cost reduction for anti-HCV drugs should be pursued.
Cost; SVR; DAA; HCV; Telaprevir
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
Interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) plus ribavirin is used to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and is associated with a high rate of depression. Newer, pegylated preparations of IFN-alpha have a longer half-life, require once-per-week dosing, and may be associated with reduced neuropsychiatric burden. Limited data exist on depression during pegylated IFN-alpha therapy.
Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS) in 162 HCV-infected patients at baseline and after 4, 8, 12, and 24 weeks of treatment with pegylated IFN alpha-2b (PEG IFN) plus weight-based (N = 86) versus standard dose (N = 76) ribavirin. Data were collected from March 2001 to April 2003.
Compared with baseline, mean SDS index scores were significantly increased by week 4 and remained elevated throughout the study. Thirty-nine percent of the sample experienced moderate to severe depressive symptoms (SDS index score ≥ 60) at some point during PEG IFN/ribavirin therapy. Baseline depression scores significantly predicted severity of depressive symptoms during PEG IFN/ribavirin treatment (simple regression analysis: Y = 0.55X + 32.7, p < .0001). In addition, assignment to weight-based ribavirin treatment and history of depression were associated with increased likelihood of developing moderate to severe depressive symptoms (odds ratio [OR] = 2.7. 95% CI = 1.3 to 5.6, p < .01, and OR = 3.3, 95% CI = 1.3 to 8.1, p < .01, respectively).
Development of moderate to severe depressive symptoms occurred frequently during PEG IFN/ribavirin treatment and was predicted by baseline depression scores and higher doses of ribavirin. History of major depressive disorder was also a significant predictive factor, but only through association with elevated baseline depression status. All of these factors can be evaluated and addressed lo limit neuropsychiatric morbidity during HCV treatment.
The phase IIb, double-blind, placebo-controlled PILLAR trial investigated the efficacy and safety of two different simeprevir (SMV) doses administered once-daily (QD) with pegylated interferon (Peg-IFN)-α-2a and ribavirin (RBV) in treatment-naïve patients with HCV genotype 1 infection. Patients were randomized to one of five treatments: SMV (75 or 150 mg QD) for 12 or 24 weeks or placebo, plus Peg-IFN and RBV. Patients in the SMV arms stopped all treatment at week 24 if response-guided therapy (RGT) criteria were met; patients not meeting RGT continued with Peg-IFN and RBV until week 48, as did patients in the placebo control group. Sustained virologic response (SVR) rates measured 24 weeks after the planned end of treatment (SVR24) were 74.7%-86.1% in the SMV groups versus 64.9% in the control group (P < 0.05 for all comparisons [SMV versus placebo], except SMV 75 mg for 24 weeks). Rapid virologic response (HCV RNA <25 IU/mL undetectable at week 4) was achieved by 68.0%-75.6% of SMV-treated and 5.2% of placebo control patients. According to RGT criteria, 79.2%-86.1% of SMV-treated patients completed treatment by week 24; 85.2%-95.6% of these subsequently achieved SVR24. The adverse event profile was generally similar across the SMV and placebo control groups, with the exception of mild reversible hyperbilirubinemia, without serum aminotransferase abnormalities, associated with higher doses of SMV.
SMV QD in combination with Peg-IFN and RBV significantly improves SVR rates, compared with Peg-IFN and RBV alone, and allows the majority of patients to shorten their therapy duration to 24 weeks.
Prediction of the efficacy of pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) plus ribavirin (RBV) therapy against hepatitis C (HCV) infection is valuable for determining its applications. This study investigated the relationship between the early response of HCV to PEG-IFN/RBV therapy and the inter-leukin (IL)-28B genetic polymorphism in patients with HCV infection. The genotypes of IL-28B rs8099917 T>G single nucleotide polymorphism were determined in 144 patients with HCV infection. Among them, 59 were treated with PEG-IFN/RBV. The frequency of IL-28B TT homozygosity was 75.2% in patients with HCV serotype 1 and 84.6% in patients with serotype 2. Multivariate analysis showed that IL-28B TT homozygosity (P=0.014) and the platelets number (P=0.030) was associated with the early suppression of HCV-RNA at 12 weeks after the start of PEG-IFN/RBV therapy. The IL-28B polymorphism was a significant pre-treatment predictor of the response to PEG-IFN/RBV therapy in patients with HCV infection.
hepatitis C; interferon; interleukin-28
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
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
The success of treatment of chronic hepatitis C (CHC) with pegylated interferon-α (PEG-IFN-α) and ribavirin (RBV) is affected by several host, viral, and treatment factors. This study was designed to describe the association of interleukin (IL) 28B genotypes for rs12979860 with sustained virologic response (SVR) in patients with genotype 1 CHC infection treated with PEG-IFN α-2 and RBV.
Materials and Methods:
Interleukin-28B genotype in 100 studied patients was detected by tagman real-time polymerase chain reaction. Before treatment blood samples were obtained, then patients were treated for 48-week with a combination therapy using of the PEG-IFN α-2 and RBV. SVR evaluated 6 months after stopping therapy, and was defined as undetectable plasma hepatitis C virus-RNA.
Among studied patients, 65% were IL-28B CT, 27% CC, and 8% TT. In all studied patients, SVR was 58.3%, relapse 15.6%, and null virological response 26.1%. SVR rates were 76.9% in IL-28B-CC, 56.4% in IL-28B-CT, and 12.5% in IL-28B-TT patients. Relapse rates were 7.7% in IL-28B-CC, 12.9% in IL-28B-CT, and 62.5% in IL-28B-TT patients. There was a significant difference between response to treatment in patients IL-28B-CC, CT, and TT (P = 0.003). IL-28B genotype CC, (odds ratio = 0.053, 95% confidence interval; 0.005-0.54, P = 0.03), was the independent predicting factor.
Interleukin-28B was an important predictor of CHC treatment outcome with Peg-IFN-α and RBV. IL-28B-CC seems to be more important than IL-28B-CT/TT in predicting positive treatment response.
Chronic hepatitis C; interleukin-28B; pegylated interferon-α; ribavirin
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
Chronic Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)-infected patients with liver cirrhosis (LC) respond poorly to interferon-alpha (IFN-α) and ribavirin (RBV) combination therapy, but the reason for this is unclear. We previously reported that HCV-infection induces endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and autophagy response that selectively down regulates the type I IFN-α receptor-1 (IFNAR1) and RBV transporters (CNT1 and ENT1), leading to IFN-α/RBV resistance. The goal of this study is to verify whether an increase in ER stress and autophagy response is also associated with the reduced expression of IFNAR1 and RBV transporters in chronic HCV-infected patients.
Primary human hepatocytes (PHH) were infected with cell culture grown HCV particles (JFH-ΔV3-Rluc). HCV replication was confirmed by the detection of viral RNA by RT-qPCR and HCV-core protein by Western blotting. The ER stress and autophagy response and expression of IFN receptors and RBV transporters in HCV infected PHH and liver tissues derived from patients were measured by Western blotting.
HCV infection of PHH showed impaired expression of IFNAR1, IFNγR1 (Type II IFN receptor) and RBV transporters but not IL10Rβ (Type III IFN-λ receptor). ER stress markers (BiP, IRE1α and peIF2α) and autophagy response (LC3II, Beclin 1 and ATG5) were induced in HCV infected chronic liver disease (CLD) and LC patients. Liver biopsies (CLD) show a 50% reduced expression of IFNAR1 and RBV transporters. Furthermore, the expression of IFNAR1 and RBV transporters was impaired in almost all LC patients.
HCV infection induces ER stress and autophagy response in infected PHH and chronically infected liver tissues. The expression of IFNAR1, IFNγR1 and RBV transporters were significantly impaired in CLD and cirrhotic livers. Our study provides a potential explanation for the reduced response rate of IFN-α and RBV combination therapy in HCV infected patients with liver cirrhosis.
IL28B and ITPA genetic variants are associated with the outcome of pegylated-interferon and ribavirin (PEG-IFN/RBV) therapy. However, the significance of these genetic variants in cirrhotic patients following splenectomy has not been determined.
Thirty-seven patients with HCV-induced cirrhosis who underwent laparoscopic splenectomy (Spx group) and 90 who did not (non-Spx group) were genotyped for IL28B and ITPA. The outcome or adverse effects were compared in each group. Interferon-stimulated gene 15 (ISG15) and protein kinase R expression in the spleen was measured using total RNA extracted from exenterate spleen.
Sustained virological response (SVR) rate was higher in patients carrying IL28B major genotype following splenectomy (50% vs 27.3%) and in patients carrying minor genotype in the Spx group compared to non-Spx group (27.3% vs 3.6%, P < 0.05). Pretreatment splenic ISG expression was higher in patients carrying IL28B major. There was no difference in progression of anemia or thrombocytopenia between patients carrying each ITPA genotype in the Spx group. Although splenectomy did not increase hemoglobin (Hb) level, Hb decline tended to be greater in the non-Spx group. In contrast, splenectomy significantly increased platelet count (61.1 × 103/μl vs 168.7 × 103/μl, P < 0.01), which was maintained during the course of PEG-IFN/RBV therapy.
IL28B genetic variants correlated with response to PEG-IFN/RBV following splenectomy. Splenectomy improved SVR rate among patients carrying IL28B minor genotype and protected against anemia and thrombocytopenia during the course of PEG-IFN/RBV therapy regardless of ITPA genotype.
IL28B; ITPA; Splenectomy; Liver cirrhosis
Abnormal serum lipid profiles have been noted in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Moreover, many reports suggest that serum lipoprotein profiles are more profoundly distorted in patients with HCV G1b infection who have an unfavorable response to pegylated interferon (peg-IFN) plus ribavirin (RBV) combination therapy. However, after the discovery of single nucleotide polymorphisms near the IL28B gene (rs8099917 and rs12979860) as potent predictive factors affecting the response to peg-IFN plus RBV, lipid factors are thought to be confounding factors.
To re-examine the significance of lipoprotein profiles on virological response to peg-IFN plus RBV combination therapy in patients with chronic HCV G1b infection, we examined cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations in each lipoprotein fraction separated by high performance liquid chromatography.
Patients and Methods
Lipoprotein profiles were examined using fasting sera from 108 patients infected with HCV G1b who had chronic hepatitis, as determined by liver biopsy. Results of lipoprotein profiles and clinical data, including IL28B genotype and amino acid substitution at aa70 of HCV G1b, were compared between patients with a sustained virological response (SVR) and non-SVR or a non-virological response (NVR) and virological responses other than NVR (non-NVR). In addition, significant predictive factors independently associated with virological response to peg-IFNα-2b plus RBV were determined by logistic regression analysis.
An increased ratio of cholesterol/triglyceride in very low-density lipoprotein (odds ratio (OR) 3.03; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01-9.44) along with a major genotype of rs8099917 (OR 9.09; 95% CI 2.94-33.33), were independent predictive factors for SVR. In contrast, lipid factors were not elucidated as independent predictive factors for NVR.
Examination of the fasting lipid profile has clinical importance in predicting the efficacy of peg-IFN-α-2b plus RBV combination therapy for patients with HCV G1b even after the discovery of the IL28 genotype as a potent predictive factor.
Hepatitis C; Ribavirin; Lipoproteins; Lipoproteins VLDL; Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
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.
Antidepressants are effective in treating interferon-α/ribavirin (IFN-α/RBV)-associated depression during or after treatment of chronic hepatitis C (CHC). Whether antidepressant prophylaxis is necessary in this population remains under debate.
Comprehensive searches were performed in Medline, Embase, Cochrane Controlled Trials Register and PubMed. Reference lists were searched manually. The methodology was in accordance with the 2009 PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis) Statement.
We identified six randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials involving 522 CHC patients treated with pegylated (PEG)-IFN-α plus RBV. The antidepressants used were escitalopram, citalopram, and paroxetine, which are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The rates of depression (17.9% vs. 31.0%, P = 0.0005), and rescue therapy (27.4% vs. 42.7%, P<0.0001) in the SSRI group were significantly lower than those in the placebo group. The rate of sustained virological response (SVR) (56.8% vs. 50.0%, P = 0.60) and drug discontinuation (18.7% vs. 21.1%, P = 0.63) in the SSRI group did not differ significantly to those in the placebo group. In terms of safety, the incidence of muscle and joint pain (40.8% vs. 52.4%, P = 0.03) and respiratory problems (29.3% vs. 40.1%, P = 0.03) were lower, but the incidence of dizziness was significantly higher (22.3% vs. 10.2%, P = 0.001) in the SSRI group.
Prophylactic SSRI antidepressants can significantly reduce the incidence of PEG-IFN-α/RBV-associated depression in patients with CHC, with good safety and tolerability, without reduction of SVR.
To evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of strategies to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV) in HIV/HCV co-infected patients in the U.S.
Simulated cohort of HIV/HCV genotype 1 co-infected, non-cirrhotic, HCV treatment-naïve individuals enrolled in U.S. HIV guideline-concordant care.
Monte Carlo simulation comparing 5 strategies: no treatment; “dual therapy" with pegylated-interferon (PEG) and ribavirin (RBV); starting all patients (“PEG/RBV trial”) or some patients (“IL28B triage”) on PEG/RBV and advancing those with treatment failure to PEG/RBV and telaprevir (TVR), and “triple therapy” PEG/RBV/TVR for all patients. Sensitivity analyses varied efficacies and costs and included a scenario with interferon (IFN)-free therapy.
SVR, life expectancy (LE), discounted quality-adjusted life expectancy (QALE) and lifetime medical cost, and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) in $/QALY gained.
“PEG/RBV trial,” “IL28B triage,” and “triple therapy” each provided 72% sustained virologic response (SVR) and extended QALE compared to “dual therapy” by 1.12, 1.14, and 1.15 QALY respectively. The ICER of “PEG/RBV trial” compared to “dual therapy” was $37,500/QALY. “IL28B triage” and “triple therapy” provided little benefit compared to “PEG/RBV trial” and had ICERs exceeding $300,000/QALY. In sensitivity analyses, IFN-free treatment attaining 90% SVR had an ICER <$100,000/QALY compared to “PEG/RBV trial” when its cost was ≤ $109,000 (125% of the cost of PEG/RBV/TVR).
HCV protease inhibitors are most efficiently used in HIV/HCV co-infection after a trial of PEG/RBV, sparing protease inhibitor for those who attain RVR and SVR. The cost-effectiveness of IFN-free regimens for HIV/HCV will depend on the cost of these therapies.
HIV/HCV co-infection; cost-effectiveness; telaprevir; interferon-free
Acute pancreatitis, an uncommon side effect of pegylated interferon α (PEG-IFN α) and ribavirin (RBV) combination therapy, has rarely been reported in the English language literature. Here, acute pancreatitis associated with PEG-IFN plus RBV treatment is described in three patients with chronic hepatitis C, genotype 1b with high serum hepatitis C virus RNA levels. The patients had been started on weekly subcutaneous injections of PEG-IFN α (60, 80, and 90 μg) plus a daily oral dose of RBV (600 mg). The therapy was discontinued, however, because of the onset of acute pancreatitis (after 15 weeks, 48 weeks, and 3 weeks respectively). The drug-induced pancreatitis was diagnosed on the basis of elevated levels of amylase and lipase and the absence of other identifiable causes. High tumor necrosis factor-α was found in one patient and high interleukin-6 in the other two. The immune system stimulated by PEG-IFN and RBV combination therapy might have caused the acute pancreatitis. Further study is needed to clarify the mechanism of the onset of drug-induced pancreatitis by PEG-IFN and RBV combination therapy.
Acute pancreatitis; Pegylated interferon; Ribavirin; Chronic hepatitis C, high serum hepatitis C viral RNA; Genotype 1b; Tumor necrosis factor-α; Interleukin-6; Drug-induced pancreatitis