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1.  Thrombocytopenia in pegylated interferon and ribavirin combination therapy for chronic hepatitis C 
Journal of Gastroenterology  2013;49(8):1253-1263.
This study aimed to examine the therapeutic effect and prognostic indicators of pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) and ribavirin (RBV) combination therapy in thrombocytopenic patients with chronic hepatitis C, hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related cirrhosis, and those who underwent splenectomy or partial splenic embolization (PSE).
Of 326 patients with HCV-related chronic liver disease (252 with genotype 1b and 74 with genotype 2a/2b) treated with PEG-IFN/RBV, 90 were diagnosed with cirrhosis.
Regardless of the degree of thrombocytopenia, the administration rate was significantly higher in the splenectomy/PSE group compared to the cirrhosis group. However, in patients with genotype 1b, the sustained virological response (SVR) rate was significantly lower in the cirrhosis and the splenectomy/PSE groups compared to the chronic hepatitis group. No cirrhotic patients with platelets less than 80,000 achieved an SVR. Patients with genotype 2a/2b were more likely to achieve an SVR than genotype 1b. Prognostic factors for SVR in patients with genotype 1b included the absence of esophageal and gastric varices, high serum ALT, low AST/ALT ratio, and the major homo type of the IL28B gene. Splenectomy- or PSE-facilitated induction of IFN in patients with genotype 2a/2b was more likely to achieve an SVR by an IFN dose maintenance regimen. Patients with genotype 1b have a low SVR regardless of splenectomy/PSE. In particular, patients with a hetero/minor type of IL28B did not have an SVR.
Splenectomy/PSE for IFN therapy should be performed in patients expected to achieve a treatment response, considering their genotype and IL28B.
PMCID: PMC4124258  PMID: 24065124
IFN therapy; IL28B; Partial splenic embolization; Splenectomy; Thrombocytopenia
2.  Genome-wide association study of interferon-related cytopenia in chronic hepatitis C patients 
Journal of hepatology  2011;56(2):313-319.
Background & Aims
Interferon-alfa (IFN)-related cytopenias are common and may be dose-limiting. We performed a genome wide association study on a well-characterized genotype 1 HCV cohort to identify genetic determinants of peginterferon-α (peg-IFN)-related thrombocytopenia, neutropenia, and leukopenia.
1604/3070 patients in the IDEAL study consented to genetic testing. Trial inclusion criteria included a platelet (Pl) count ≥80 × 109/L and an absolute neutrophil count (ANC) ≥ 1500/mm3. Samples were genotyped using the Illumina Human610-quad BeadChip. The primary analyses focused on the genetic determinants of quantitative change in cell counts (Pl, ANC, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils) at week 4 in patients >80% adherent to therapy (n = 1294).
6 SNPs on chromosome 20 were positively associated with Pl reduction (top SNP rs965469, p = 10−10). These tag SNPs are in high linkage disequilibrium with 2 functional variants in the ITPA gene, rs1127354 and rs7270101, that cause ITPase deficiency and protect against ribavirin (RBV)-induced hemolytic anemia (HA). rs1127354 and rs7270101 showed strong independent associations with Pl reduction (p = 10−12, p = 10−7) and entirely explained the genome-wide significant associations. We believe this is an example of an indirect genetic association due to a reactive thrombocytosis to RBV-induced anemia: Hb decline was inversely correlated with Pl reduction (r = −0.28, p = 10−17) and Hb change largely attenuated the association between the ITPA variants and Pl reduction in regression models. No common genetic variants were associated with pegIFN-induced neutropenia or leucopenia.
Two ITPA variants were associated with thrombocytopenia; this was largely explained by a thrombocytotic response to RBV-induced HA attenuating IFN-related thrombocytopenia. No genetic determinants of pegIFN-induced neutropenia were identified.
PMCID: PMC3634361  PMID: 21703177
GWAS; ITPA; Thrombocytopenia; Hepatitis C; Neutropenia; IL28B
3.  Limited Utility of ITPA Deficiency to Predict Early Anemia in HCV Patients with Advanced Fibrosis Receiving Telaprevir 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95881.
Severe anemia is a common side effect of Pegylated Interferon + Ribavirin (PR) and Telaprevir (TVR) in hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 patients with advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis (F3–F4). Inosine triphosphatase (ITPA) genetic variants are associated with RBV- induced anemia and dose reduction.
To test the association of ITPA polymorphisms rs1127354 and rs7270101 with hemoglobin (Hb) decline, need for RBV dose reduction (RBV DR), erythropoietin (EPO) support and blood transfusions during the first 12 weeks of TVR triple therapy.
Materials and Methods
69 consecutive HCV-1 patients (mean age 57 years) with F3-F4 who received PR and TVR were genotyped for ITPA polymorphisms rs1127354 and rs7270101. Estimated ITPA deficiency was graded on severity (0–3, no deficiency/mild/moderate/severe).
ITPA deficiency was absent in 48 patients (70%), mild in 12 (17%) and moderate in 9 patients (13%). Mean week 4 Hb decline was higher in non ITPA deficient patients (3,85 g/dL) than in mildly or moderately ITPA deficient patients (3,07 g/dL and 1,67 g/dL, p<0.0001). Grade 3–4 anemia developed in 81% non ITPA deficient patients versus 67% mild deficient and 55% moderate deficient patients (p = ns). Grade of ITPA deficiency was not associated with RbvDR (no deficiency: 60%, mild: 58%, moderate: 67%; p = ns), EPO use (no deficiency: 65%, mild: 58%, moderate:56%; p = ns) or need for blood transfusion (no deficiency: 27%, mild: 17%, moderate: 33%; p = ns).
In patients with F3–F4 chronic hepatitis C receiving TVR based therapy, ITPA genotype does not impact on the management of early anemia.
PMCID: PMC3997406  PMID: 24760000
4.  Association of ITPA polymorphism with outcomes of peginterferon-α plus ribavirin combination therapy 
AIM: To analyzed the association between inosine triphosphatase (ITPA) (rs1127354) genotypes and sustained virological response (SVR) rates in peginterferon (Peg-IFN)α + ribavirin (RBV) treatment.
METHODS: Patients who underwent Peg-IFNα + RBV combination therapy were enrolled (n = 120) and they had no history of other IFN-based treatments. Variation in hemoglobin levels during therapy, cumulative reduction of RBV dose, frequency of treatment withdrawal, and SVR rates were investigated in each ITPA genotype.
RESULTS: In patients with ITPA CC genotype, hemoglobin decline was significantly greater and the percentage of patients in whom total RBV dose was < 60% of standard and/or treatment was withdrawn was significantly higher compared with CA/AA genotype. However, SVR rates were equivalent between CC and CA/AA genotypes, and within a subset of patients with Interleukin 28B (IL28B) (rs8099917) TT genotype, SVR rates tended to be higher in patients with ITPA CC genotype, although the difference was not significant.
CONCLUSION: ITPA CC genotype was a disadvantageous factor for Peg-IFNα + RBV treatment in relation to completion rates and RBV dose. However, CC genotype was not inferior to CA/AA genotype for SVR rates. When full-length treatment is accomplished, it is plausible that more SVR is achieved in patients with ITPA CC variant, especially in a background of IL28B TT genotype.
PMCID: PMC3729868  PMID: 23919217
Chronic hepatitis C; Interleukin 28B; Inosine triphosphatase; Peginterferon; Ribavirin
5.  ITPA Gene Polymorphisms Significantly Affect Hemoglobin Decline and Treatment Outcomes in Patients Coinfected With HIV and HCV 
Journal of medical virology  2012;84(7):1106-1114.
Published studies have described a strong association with a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the inosine triphosphate pyrophosphatase (ITPA) gene and ribavirin (RBV)-induced hemolytic anemia in HCV-infected patients receiving pegylated interferon (pegIFN) and RBV. This study sought to evaluate the effect of these polymorphisms on anemia, hemoglobin reduction, HCV kinetics, and treatment outcomes. Sixty-three patients coinfected with HIV and HCV and 58 patients infected with HCV only were treated with pegIFN/RBV were genotyped using the ABI Taq-Man allelic discrimination kit for the 2 ITPA SNP variants rs1127354 and rs7270101. A composite variable of ITPA deficiency using both SNPs was created as previously reported. Statistical analysis was performed using Mann-Whitney test or Chi square/Fishers exact test for categorical data and mixed model analysis for multiple variables. Thirty-five patients (30%) were predicted to have reduced ITPA activity. ITPA deficiency was found to be protective against the development of hemoglobin reduction >3 g/dl over the course of treatment. The rates of hemoglobin reduction >3 g/dl decreased in correlation with the severity of ITPA deficiency. ITPA deficiency was associated with slower hemoglobin decline early in treatment (week 4, P = 0.020) and rapid virologic response (RVR) at week 4 (P = 0.017) in patients coinfected with HIV and HCV. ITPA polymorphisms are associated with hemoglobin decline and in patients coinfected with HIV and HCV it is also associated with early virologic outcomes. Determination of ITPA polymorphisms may allow prediction of RBV-induced anemia and earlier initiation of supportive care to ensure optimal therapeutic outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3518921  PMID: 22585729
ribavirin-induced hemolytic anemia; ITPA; HIV/HCV; pharmacogenomics
6.  Variants in the ITPA Gene Protect Against Ribavirin-Induced Hemolytic Anemia in HIV/HCV-Coinfected Patients With All HCV Genotypes 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;205(3):376-383.
Background. A recent genome-wide association study reported a strong association with a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the inosine triphosphate (ITPA) gene and hemolytic anemia in patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) receiving pegylated interferon and ribavirin. We investigate these polymorphisms in a cohort of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/HCV–coinfected patients.
Methods. DNA was available for 161 patients with validated outcomes. We analyzed the association between the variants and week 4 hemoglobin reduction. Anemia over the course of therapy, ribavirin (RBV) dose reduction, serum RBV level, and rapid virological response (RVR) and sustained virological response (SVR) were also investigated. Using a candidate gene approach, ITPA variants rs1127354 and rs7270101 were tested using the ABI TaqMan kit. Multivariable models were used to identify predictors of anemia.
Results. A significant minority (33%) of patients were predicted to have reduced ITPase activity. The minor allele of each variant was associated with protection against week 4 anemia. In multivariable models only the genetic variants, creatinine, and zidovudine exposure remained significant. ITPase deficiency was not associated with RBV-dose reduction, RVR, or SVR.
Conclusions. This study confirms that polymorphisms in the ITPA gene are associated with protection from RBV-induced anemia in HIV/HCV-coinfected patients but not improved clinical outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3283113  PMID: 22158703
7.  The Impact of Inosine Triphosphatase Variants on Hemoglobin Level and Sustained Virologic Response of Chronic Hepatitis C in Korean 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2013;28(8):1213-1219.
Two variants of the inosine triphosphatase (ITPA: rs1127354, rs7270101) gene cause ITPA deficiency and protect against the hemolytic toxicity of ribavirin. We investigated the clinical significance of ITPA variants in Korean patients treated with pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) plus ribavirin. Of the 133 patients, 108 were CC and 25 were non-CC at rs1127354 (groups A and B, respectively). On the other hand, at rs7270101 all 133 were AA. The mean values of Hemoglobin (Hgb) after 4, 8, and 12 weeks of treatment in groups A and B were 12.2 and 14.0, 11.8 and 13.2, and 11.5 and 12.9, respectively (P=0.001, 0.036, 0.036). Sustained virologic response (SVR) was achieved in 67.8% (40/59) of genotype 1 patients and in 75% (27/36) of non-genotype 1 patients. Regarding ITPA variants, SVR was achieved by 66% and 80% of genotype 1 (P=0.282), and by 78% and 71% (P=0.726) of non-genotype 1. SVR was not significantly different in groups A and B. In conclusion, non-CC at rs1127354 without involvement of rs7270101 is strongly associated with protection from ribavirin-induced anemia, however, ITPA genotype is not associated with SVR.
PMCID: PMC3744711  PMID: 23960450
Hepatitis C, Chronic; Ribavirin; Anemia; ITPA; IL28B
8.  Variants in the ITPA Gene Protect Against Ribavirin-Induced Hemolytic Anemia and Decrease the Need for Ribavirin Dose Reduction 
Gastroenterology  2010;139(4):1181-1189.
In a genome-wide association study of patients being treated for chronic hepatitis C, 2 functional variants in ITPA that cause inosine triphosphatase (ITPase) deficiency were shown to protect against ribavirin (RBV)-induced hemolytic anemia during early stages of treatment. We aimed to replicate this finding in an independent cohort from the Study of Viral Resistance to Antiviral Therapy of Chronic Hepatitis C and to investigate the effects of these variants beyond week 4.
Genetic material was available from 318 patients. The ITPA variants, rs1127354 (exon 2, P32T) and rs7270101 (intron 2, splice altering), were genotyped and tested for association with hemoglobin (Hb) reduction at week 4. An ITPase deficiency variable was defined that combined both ITPA variants according to documented effect on ITPase activity. We investigated the impact of ITPA variants on Hb levels over the course of therapy and on the need for RBV dose reduction.
The final analysis included 304 patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C virus (167 white patients and 137 black patients). The polymorphisms rs1127354 and rs7270101 were associated with Hb reduction at week 4 (P = 3.1 × 10−13 and 1.3 × 10−3, respectively). The minor alleles of each variant protected against Hb reduction. Combining the variants into the ITPase deficiency variable strengthened the association (P = 2.4 × 10−18). The ITPase deficiency variable was associated with lower rates of anemia over the entire treatment period (48 weeks), as well as a lower rate of anemia-related RBV dose reduction (hazard ratio, 0.52; P = .0037). No association with sustained virological response was observed.
Two polymorphisms that cause ITPase deficiency are strongly associated with protection from RBV-induced hemolytic anemia and decrease the need for RBV dose reduction.
PMCID: PMC3086671  PMID: 20547162
Pharmacogenomics; Genome-Wide Association Study; Polymorphism; Single Nucleotide Polymorphism; HCV; Adverse Event
9.  Pharmacogenetics of Efficacy and Safety of HCV Treatment in HCV-HIV Coinfected Patients: Significant Associations with IL28B and SOCS3 Gene Variants 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e47725.
Background and Aims
This was a safety and efficacy pharmacogenetic study of a previously performed randomized trial which compared the effectiveness of treatment of hepatitis C virus infection with pegylated interferon alpha (pegIFNα) 2a vs. 2b, both with ribavirin, for 48 weeks, in HCV-HIV coinfected patients.
The study groups were made of 99 patients (efficacy pharmacogenetic substudy) and of 114 patients (safety pharmacogenetic substudy). Polymorphisms in the following candidate genes IL28B, IL6, IL10, TNFα, IFNγ, CCL5, MxA, OAS1, SOCS3, CTLA4 and ITPA were assessed. Genotyping was carried out using Sequenom iPLEX-Gold, a single-base extension polymerase chain reaction. Efficacy end-points assessed were: rapid, early and sustained virological response (RVR, EVR and SVR, respectively). Safety end-points assessed were: anemia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, flu-like syndrome, gastrointestinal disturbances and depression. Chi square test, Student's T test, Mann-Whitney U test and logistic regression were used for statistic analyses.
As efficacy is concerned, IL28B and CTLA4 gene polymorphisms were associated with RVR (p<0.05 for both comparisons). Nevertheless, only polymorphism in the IL28B gene was associated with SVR (p = 0.004). In the multivariate analysis, the only gene independently associated with SVR was IL28B (OR 2.61, 95%CI 1.2–5.6, p = 0.01). With respect to safety, there were no significant associations between flu-like syndrome or depression and the genetic variants studied. Gastrointestinal disturbances were associated with ITPA gene polymorphism (p = 0.04). Anemia was associated with OAS1 and CTLA4 gene polymorphisms (p = 0.049 and p = 0.045, respectively), neutropenia and thromobocytopenia were associated with SOCS3 gene polymorphism (p = 0.02 and p = 0.002, respectively). In the multivariate analysis, the associations of the SOCS3 gene polymorphism with neutropenia (OR 0.26, 95%CI 0.09–0.75, p = 0.01) and thrombocytopenia (OR 0.07, 95%CI 0.008–0.57, p = 0.01) remained significant.
In HCV-HIV coinfected patients treated with PegIFNα and ribavirin, SVR is associated with IL28B rs8099917 polymorphism. HCV treatment-induced neutropenia and thrombocytopenia are associated with SOCS3 rs4969170 polymorphism.
PMCID: PMC3487790  PMID: 23133602
10.  Clinical experience with nonstandard doses ofinterferon alfa-2b and ribavirin in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C infection: A retrospective analysis 
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.
PMCID: PMC4003805  PMID: 24790244
hepatitis C; pegylated interferon; interferon alfa-2b and ribavirin; ribavirin; dosing; outcomes
11.  Prediction of response to pegylated-interferon-α and ribavirin therapy in Chinese patients infected with different hepatitis C virus genotype 
Virology Journal  2012;9:123.
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.
PMCID: PMC3439299  PMID: 22713131
IL-28B; Hepatitis C; Relapse; Sustained virological response; Treatment
12.  Current progress in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C 
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.
PMCID: PMC3496882  PMID: 23155334
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
13.  Hematological Adverse events and Sustained Viral Response in Children Undergoing Therapy for Chronic Hepatitis C Infection 
Hepatitis Monthly  2011;11(12):968-974.
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.
PMCID: PMC3282029  PMID: 22368680
Hepatitis C; Child; Therapeutics
14.  Anemia Management in the Era of Triple Combination Therapy for Chronic HCV 
Gastroenterology & Hepatology  2012;8(9 Suppl 6):1-16.
Boceprevir or telaprevir plus ribavirin (RBV) and pegylated interferon-α (pegIFN-α) is the new standard-of-care therapy for patients who are chronically infected with genotype 1 hepatitis C virus (HCV). The addition of these protease inhibitors to the RBV/pegIFN-α combination regimen has significantly improved rates of sustained virologic response (SVR); however, the incidence of anemia has also increased significantly. Anemia can interfere with patients’ quality of life, work productivity, and treatment adherence. Severe anemia can cause morbidity and even mortality. For the management of anemia during triple combination therapy, RBV dose reduction is recommended as an initial course of action. Retrospective analyses of carefully selected patient cohorts suggest that RBV dose reduction does not reduce SVR rates. However, this observation needs to be confirmed in prospective trials with cohorts that more accurately reflect the challenging patients treated in real-world practice. Adequate doses of RBV should be maintained during triple combination therapy, as phase II trials have demonstrated that RBV is essential for attaining optimal SVR rates and preventing viral breakthrough, relapse, and emergence of resistant variants. This roundtable addresses key points related to the management of anemia in the era of triple combination therapy, including the increasing problem of anemia, strategies for anemia management, and the importance of maintaining adequate RBV exposure as part of the HCV treatment regimen.
PMCID: PMC3533206  PMID: 23293572
15.  The cost-effectiveness of improved HCV therapies in HIV/HCV co-infected individuals 
AIDS (London, England)  2014;28(3):365-376.
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.
Main Measures
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.
PMCID: PMC4045405  PMID: 24670522
HIV/HCV co-infection; cost-effectiveness; telaprevir; interferon-free
16.  Association of ITPA Gene Polymorphisms and the Risk of Ribavirin-Induced Anemia in HIV/Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)-Coinfected Patients Receiving HCV Combination Therapy 
Polymorphisms of the ITPA gene have been associated with anemia during combination therapy in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-monoinfected patients. Our aim was to confirm this association in HIV/HCV-coinfected patients. In this prospective, observational study, 73 HIV/HCV-coinfected patients treated with pegylated interferon plus ribavirin (RBV) were enrolled. Two single nucleotide polymorphisms within or adjacent to the ITPA gene (rs1127354 and rs7270101) were genotyped. The associations between the ITPA genotype and anemia or treatment outcome were examined. Fifty-nine patients (80.8%) had CC at rs1127354, whereas 14 (19.2%) had a CA/AA ITPA genotype. Percent decreases from baseline hemoglobin level were significantly greater in patients with the CC genotype than in those with the CA/AA genotype at week 4 (P = 0.0003), week 12 (P < 0.0001), and week 36 (P = 0.0102) but not at the end of treatment. RBV dose reduction was more often needed in patients with the CC genotype than in those with the CA/AA genotype (odds ratio [OR] = 11.81; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.45 to 256.17; P = 0.0039), as was erythropoietin therapy (OR = 8.28; 95% CI = 1.04 to 371.12; P = 0.0057). Risk factors independently associated with percent hemoglobin nadir decrease were RBV dose reduction (OR = 11.72; 95% CI = 6.82 to 16.63; P < 0.001), baseline hemoglobin (OR = 1.69; 95% CI = 0.23 to 3.15; P = 0.024), and body mass index (OR = −0.7; 95% CI = −1.43 to 0.03; P = 0.061). ITPA polymorphism was not an independent predictor of sustained virological response. Polymorphisms at rs1127354 in the ITPA gene influence hemoglobin levels during combination HCV therapy and the need for RBV dose reduction and erythropoietin use in HIV/HCV-coinfected patients.
PMCID: PMC3370811  PMID: 22430973
17.  Sequence Heterogeneity in NS5A of Hepatitis C Virus Genotypes 2a and 2b and Clinical Outcome of Pegylated-Interferon/Ribavirin Therapy 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30513.
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.
PMCID: PMC3271109  PMID: 22319571
18.  Pre-treatment role of inosine triphosphate pyrophosphatase polymorphism for predicting anemia in Egyptian hepatitis C virus patients 
AIM: To investigate and clarify, for the first time, the role of inosine triphosphate pyrophosphatase (ITPA) polymorphism in Egyptian chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) patients.
METHODS:The human genomic DNA of all patients was extracted from peripheral blood cells in order to determine the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) of ITPA (rs1127354). SNP genotyping was performed by real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR, ABI TaqMan allelic discrimination kit) for 102 treatment-naive Egyptian patients with chronic HCV. All patients had no evidence of cardiovascular or renal diseases. They received a combination treatment of pegylated interferon α (PEG-IFNα) as a weekly subcutaneous dose plus an oral weight-adjusted dose of ribavirin (RBV). The majority received PEG-IFNα2a (70.6%) while 29.4% received PEG-IFNα2b. The planned duration of treatment was 24-48 wk according to the viral kinetics throughout the course of treatment. Pre-treatment liver biopsy was done for each patient for evaluation of fibrosis stage and liver disease activity. The basal viral load level was detected quantitatively by real time PCR while viral load throughout the treatment course was performed qualitatively by COBAS TaqMan assay.
RESULTS: Ninety-three patients (91.2%) had ITPA SNP CC genotype and 9 (8.8%) had non-CC genotype (CA and AA). The percentage of hemoglobin (Hb) decline was higher for CC patients than for non-CC patients, particularly at weeks 4 and 8 (P = 0.047 and 0.034, respectively). During the first 12 wk of treatment, CC patients had significantly more Hb decline > 3 g/dL than non-CC patients: 64.5% vs 22.2% at weeks 8 and 12, respectively, (P = 0.024 and 0.038). Reduction of the amount of the planned RBV dose was significantly higher for CC patients than non-CC patients during the first 12 wk (18% ± 12.1% vs 8.5% ± 10.2%, P = 0.021). The percentage of CC patients with RBV dose reduction was significantly greater than that of non-CC patients (77.4% vs 44.4%, P = 0.044). Multivariate analysis identified only the percentage of RBV dose as a predictor for Hb decline. Platelet decline was significantly higher in non-CC patients than CC patients at weeks 12, 24 and 48 (P = 0.018, 0.009 and 0.026, respectively).
CONCLUSION: Rs1127354 ITPA polymorphism plays a decisive role in protecting against treatment-induced anemia and the need for RBV dose reduction in Egyptian HCV patients.
PMCID: PMC3602498  PMID: 23538996
Anemia; Dose reduction; Hepatitis C; Inosine triphosphate; Ribavirin; Rs1127354
19.  Deciphering the Interleukin 28B Variants That Better Predict Response to Pegylated Interferon-α and Ribavirin Therapy in HCV/HIV-1 Coinfected Patients 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31016.
Previous works have documented the contribution of different IL28B-associated SNPs to spontaneous HCV clearance. This study investigated the effect of different interleukin (IL) 28B genetic variants on interferon (IFN)-based therapy response. We genotyped eight IL28B single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in a cohort of 197 hepatitis C virus (HCV)/human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) coinfected patients from our clinic unit who received combined pegylated (peg)-IFN-α and ribavirin (RBV) therapy. This analysis included the two strongest tag predictors for HCV clearance, rs8099917 and rs12979860, and four causal variants (rs4803219, rs28416813, rs8103142, and rs4803217) located in the IL28B promoter, coding, and 3′-untranslated regions. Haplotypes carrying the major alleles at IL28B SNPs were highly associated with sustained virological responses (SVRs) after treatment with peg-IFN-α and RBV [odds ratio (OR) = 2.5, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.6–4.0, 4.0×10−5]. Three causal SNP genotypes (rs28416813, rs8103142, and rs4803217) displayed the highest association with SVRs (OR = 3.7, 95% CI = 2.0–6.7, p = 1.3×10−5). All four causal variants were in high linkage disequilibrium, both among themselves (r2≥0.94) and with the rs12979860 variant (r2≥0.92). In contrast, rs8099917 was in low linkage disequilibrium with the four causal variants (r2≤0.45) and with the rs12979860 variant (r2 = 0.45). These results demonstrate that rs12979860, compared to rs8099917, may be a better predictor of response to the peg-IFN/RBV treatment among HCV/HIV-1 coinfected patients. Moreover, causal IL28B variants are strongly associated with treatment SVRs.
PMCID: PMC3273458  PMID: 22328925
20.  IFNL4 ss469415590 Variant Shows Similar Performance to rs12979860 as Predictor of Response to Treatment against Hepatitis C Virus Genotype 1 or 4 in Caucasians 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95515.
The rs12979860 variant, linked to IL28B gene, predicts sustained viral response (SVR) to pegylated-interferon/ribavirin (pegIFN/RBV) therapy in Hepatitis C Virus genotype 1 or 4 (HCV-1/4)-infected patients. Recently, a functional variant, ss469415590, in linkage disequilibrium (LD) with rs12979860, has been discovered. Our objective was to assess the value of ss469415590 to predict SVR to pegIFN/RBV in Caucasian HCV-1/4-infected individuals and to compare its performance with that of rs12979860.
272 Caucasian HCV-1/4-infected patients who completed a course of pegIFN/RBV were genotyped for both rs12979860 and ss469415590 markers. Logistic regression models including factors with univariate association with SVR and each genetic marker were elaborated. The area under the receiver operating-characteristic curve (AUROC) was calculated for each model and both were compared.
Both markers were in LD (r2 = 0.82). For rs12979860, 66 (64.0%) CC versus 56 (33.1%) T allele carriers achieved SVR (Adjusted OR = 4.156, 95%CI = 2.388–7.232, p = 4.647×10−7). For ss469415590, 66 (66.0%) TT/TT versus 56 (32.5%) –G allele carriers (Adjusted OR = 4.783, 95%CI = 2.714–8.428, p = 6.153×10−8) achieved SVR. The AUROC of the model including rs12979860 was 0.742 (95%CI = 0.672–0.813) and of that based on ss469415590 was 0.756 (95%CI = 0.687–0.826) (p = 0.780).
The ss469415590 variant shows an equivalent performance to predict SVR to pegIFN/RBV than the rs2979860 in Caucasian HCV-1/4-infected patients.
PMCID: PMC3991683  PMID: 24748394
21.  Twenty four-week peginterferon plus ribavirin after interferon-β induction for genotype 1b chronic hepatitis C 
World Journal of Hepatology  2010;2(6):226-232.
AIM: To investigate the possibility of shortening the duration of peginterferon (Peg-IFN) plus ribavirin (RBV) combination therapy by incorporating interferon-β (IFN-β) induction therapy.
METHODS: A one treatment arm, cohort prospective study was conducted on seventy one patients. The patients were Japanese adults with genotype 1b chronic hepatitis C, HCV-RNA levels of ≥ 5.0 Log IU/mL or 100 KIU/mL, and platelet counts of ≥ 90 000/μL. The treatment regimen consisted of a 2 wk course of twice-daily administration of IFN-β followed by 24 wk Peg-IFN plus RBV combination therapy. We prolonged the duration of the Peg-IFN plus RBV therapy to 48 wk if the patient requested it.
RESULTS: The patients, including 44% males, were characterized by an median age of 63 years (range: 32-78 years), an median platelet count of 13.9 (range: 9.1-30.6) × 104/μL, 62% IFN-naïve, and median HCV-RNA of 6.1 (range: 5.1-7.2) Log IU/mL. The sustained virologic response (SVR) rates were 34% (Peg-IFN: 1-24 wk, n = 61, 95% confidence interval (CI): 24%-47%) and 55% (Peg-IFN: 20-24 wk, n = 31, 95% CI: 38%-71%, P < 0.001; vs Peg-IFN: 1-19 wk). The SVR rate when the administration was discontinued early was 13% (Peg-IFN: 1-19 wk, n = 30, 95% CI: 5%-30%), and that when the administration was prolonged was 50% (Peg-IFN: 25-48 wk, n = 10, 95% CI: 24%-76%, P < 0.05; vs Peg-IFN: 1-19 wk). In the patients who received 20-24 wk of Peg-IFN plus RBV, only the higher platelet count (≥ 130 000/μL) was significantly correlated with the SVR (odds ratio: 11.680, 95% CI: 2.3064-79.474, P = 0.0024). In 45% (14/31) of the patients with a higher platelet count (≥ 130 000/μL) before therapy, the HCV-RNA level decreased to below 3.3 Log IU/mL at the completion of IFN-β, and their SVR rate was 93% (13/14) after 20-24 wk administration of Peg-IFN plus RBV.
CONCLUSION: These results suggest the possibilities of shortening the duration of Peg-IFN plus RBV combination therapy by actively reducing HCV-RNA levels using the IFN-β induction regimen.
PMCID: PMC2998969  PMID: 21161001
Peginterferon; Ribavirin; Interferon-β; Induction therapy; Short-term therapy; Chronic hepatitis C; Genotype 1b
22.  Retreatment of hepatitis C patients with pegylated interferon combined with ribavirin in non-responders to interferon plus ribavirin. Is it different in real life? 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:212.
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.
PMCID: PMC2912909  PMID: 20646277
23.  Pegylated interferon plus ribavirin for genotype Ib chronic hepatitis C in Japan 
AIM: To evaluate the efficacy of pegylated interferon α-2b (peg-IFNα-2b) plus ribavirin (RBV) therapy in Japanese patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) genotype Ib and a high viral load.
METHODS: One hundred and twenty CHC patients (58.3% male) who received peg-IFNα-2b plus RBV therapy for 48 wk were enrolled. Sustained virological response (SVR) and clinical parameters were evaluated.
RESULTS: One hundred (83.3%) of 120 patients completed 48 wk of treatment. 53 patients (44.3%) achieved SVR. Early virological response (EVR) and end of treatment response (ETR) rates were 50% and 73.3%, respectively. The clinical parameters (SVR vs non-SVR) associated with SVR, ALT (108.4 IU/L vs 74.5 IU/L, P = 0.063), EVR (76.4% vs 16.4%, P < 0.0001), adherence to peg-IFN (≥ 80% of planned dose) at week 12 (48.1% vs 13.6%, P = 0.00036), adherence to peg-IFN at week 48 (54.7% vs 16.2%, P < 0.0001) and adherence to RBV at week 48 (56.1% vs 32.1%, P = 0.0102) were determined using univariate analysis, and EVR and adherence to peg-IFN at week 48 were determined using multivariate analysis. In the older patient group (> 56 years), SVR in females was significantly lower than that in males (17% vs 50%, P = 0.0262). EVR and adherence to Peg-IFN were demonstrated to be the main factors associated with SVR.
CONCLUSION: Peg-IFNα-2b plus RBV combination therapy demonstrated good tolerability in Japanese patients with CHC and resulted in a SVR rate of 44.3%. Treatment of elderly female patients is still challenging and maintenance of adherence to peg-IFNα-2b is important in improving the SVR rate.
PMCID: PMC2776881  PMID: 19084938
Chronic hepatitis C; Pegylated interferon; Ribavirin
24.  Liver Fibrosis, Host Genetic and Hepatitis C Virus Related Parameters as Predictive Factors of Response to Therapy against Hepatitis C Virus in HIV/HCV Coinfected Patients 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101760.
To establish the role of liver fibrosis as a predictive tool of response to pegylated interferon alpha (Peg-IFN) and ribavirin (RBV) treatment in human immunodeficiency (HIV)/hepatitis C virus (HCV) coinfected patients, in addition to recognized predictive factors (HCV load, HCV genotype, IL-28B polymorphism).
Patients and Methods
A sample of 267 HIV/HCV coinfected patients was treated with Peg-IFN and RBV. Predictive factors of rapid (RVR) and sustained (SVR) virological response were analyzed. Independent variables were age, sex, IL28B, −238 TNF-α and −592 IL-10 polymorphisms, HCV genotype, HCV-RNA levels, significant fibrosis or cirrhosis and CD4+ T cell count.
Patients infected by HCV genotype 1 (n = 187) showed RVR and SVR in 12% and 39% of cases, respectively. The parameters associated with RVR were IL28B genotype CC and plasma HCV-RNA levels <600000 IU/ml. Advanced liver fibrosis was negatively associated with SVR in patients without RVR. A SVR was obtained in 42% of subjects with HCV genotype 4, and the independent factors associated with SVR were IL28B genotype CC and an HCV-RNA <600000 IU/ml. A SVR was obtained in 66% of patients with HCV genotypes 2/3; in this case, the independent parameter associated with SVR was the absence of significant liver fibrosis. TNF-α and IL-10 polymorphisms were not associated with SVR, although a significantly higher percentage of −238 TNF-α genotype GG was detected in patients with significant liver fibrosis.
In HIV/HCV coinfected patients with HCV genotypes 1 or 4, RVR, mainly influenced by genotype IL28B and HCV-RNA levels, reliably predicted SVR after 4 weeks of therapy with Peg-IFN plus RBV. In patients infected by HCV genotype 3, an elevated relapse rate compromised the influence of RVR on SVR. Relapses were related to the presence of advanced liver fibrosis. Liver cirrhosis was associated with a −238 TNF-α polymorphism in these patients.
PMCID: PMC4094489  PMID: 25013899
25.  Present, old and future strategies for anti-HCV treatment in patients infected by genotype-1: estimation of the drug costs in the Calabria Region in the era of the directly acting antivirals 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14(Suppl 5):S3.
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.
PMCID: PMC4160897  PMID: 25236374
Cost; SVR; DAA; HCV; Telaprevir

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