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
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
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
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.
The levels of expression of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) in liver are associated with response to treatment with pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) plus ribavirin (RBV). However, associations between the responses of ISGs to IFN-based therapy and treatment efficacy or interleukin-28B (IL28B) genotype have not yet been determined. Therefore, we investigated the early responses of ISGs and interferon-lambdas (IFN-λs) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) during PEG-IFN/RBV plus NS3/4 protease inhibitor (PI) therapy. We prospectively enrolled 50 chronic hepatitis C patients with HCV genotype 1, and collected PBMCs at baseline, 8 and 24 h after the initial administration of PEG-IFN/RBV/PI. Levels of mRNAs for selected ISGs and IFN-λs were evaluated by real-time PCR. All 31 patients with a favorable IL28B genotype and 13 of 19 with an unfavorable genotype achieved sustained virological responses (SVR). Levels of mRNA for A20, SOCS1, and SOCS3, known to suppress antiviral activity by interfering with the IFN signaling pathway, as well as IRF1 were significantly higher at 8 h in patients with an unfavorable IL28B genotype than in those with a favorable one (P = 0.007, 0.026, 0.0004, 0.0006, respectively), especially in the non-SVR group. Particularly, the fold-change of IRF1 at 8 h relative to baseline was significantly higher in non-SVR than in SVR cases with an unfavorable IL28B genotype (P = 0.035). In conclusion, levels of several mRNAs of genes suppressing antiviral activity in PBMCs during PEG-IFN/RBV/PI differed according to IL28B genotypes, paralleling treatment efficacy.
AIM: To evaluate daclatasvir vs telaprevir, each combined with peginterferon alfa-2a/ribavirin (pegIFN/RBV), in treatment-naive hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype (GT) 1-infected patients.
METHODS: In this phase 3, randomized, open-label, noninferiority study, 602 patients were randomly assigned (2:1) to daclatasvir vs telaprevir, stratified by IL28B rs12979860 host genotype (CC vs non-CC), cirrhosis status (compensated cirrhosis vs no cirrhosis), and HCV GT1 subtype (GT1a vs GT1b). Patients were selected by study inclusion criteria from a total of 793 enrolled patients. Patients received daclatasvir 60 mg once daily or telaprevir 750 mg 3 times daily plus pegIFN/RBV. Daclatasvir recipients received 24 wk of daclatasvir plus pegIFN/RBV; those without an extended rapid virologic response (eRVR; undetectable HCV-RNA at weeks 4 and 12) received an additional 24 wk of pegIFN/RBV. Telaprevir-treated patients received 12 wk of telaprevir plus pegIFN/RBV followed by 12 (with eRVR) or 36 (no eRVR) wk of pegIFN/RBV. The primary objective was to compare for noninferiority of sustained virologic response rates at posttreatment week 12 (SVR12) in GT1b-infected patients. Key secondary objectives were to demonstrate that the rates of anemia (hemoglobin < 10 g/dL) and rash-related events, through week 12, were lower with daclatasvir + pegIFN/RBV than with telaprevir + pegIFN/RBV among GT1b-infected patients. Resistance testing was performed using population-based sequencing of the NS5A region for all patients at baseline, and for patients with virologic failure or relapse and HCV-RNA ≥ 1000 IU/mL, to investigate any link between NS5A polymorphisms associated with daclatasvir resistance and virologic outcome.
RESULTS: Patient demographics and disease characteristics were generally balanced across treatment arms; however, there was a higher proportion of black/African Americans in the daclatasvir groups (6.0% and 8.2% in the GT1b and GT1a groups, respectively) than in the telaprevir groups (2.2% and 3.0%). Among GT1b-infected patients, daclatasvir plus pegIFN/RBV was noninferior to telaprevir plus pegIFN/RBV for SVR12 [85% (228/268) vs 81% (109/134); difference, 4.3% (95%CI: -3.3% to 11.9%)]. Anemia (hemoglobin < 10 g/dL) was significantly less frequent with daclatasvir than with telaprevir [difference, -29.1% (95%CI: -38.8% to -19.4%)]. Rash-related events were also less common with daclatasvir than with telaprevir, but the difference was not statistically significant. In GT1a-infected patients, SVR12 was 64.9% with daclatasvir and 69.7% with telaprevir. Among both daclatasvir and telaprevir treatment groups, across GT1b- or GT1a-infected patients, lower response rates were observed in patients with IL28B non-CC and cirrhosis - factors known to affect response to pegIFN/RBV. Consistent with these observations, a multivariate logistic regression analysis in GT1b-infected patients demonstrated that SVR12 was associated with IL28B host genotype (CC vs non-CC, P = 0.011) and cirrhosis status (absent vs present, P = 0.031). NS5A polymorphisms associated with daclatasvir resistance (at L28, R30, L31, or Y93) were observed in 17.3% of GT1b-infected patients at baseline; such variants did not appear to be absolute predictors of failure since 72.1% of these patients achieved SVR12 compared with 86.9% without these polymorphisms. Among GT1b-infected patients, treatment was completed by 85.4% (229/268) in the daclatasvir group, and by 85.1% (114/134) in the telaprevir group, and among GT1a-infected patients, by 67.2% (90/134) and 69.7% (46/66), respectively. Discontinuations (of all 3 agents) due to an AE were more frequent with telaprevir than with daclatasvir, whereas discontinuations due to lack of efficacy were more frequent with daclatasvir, due, in part, to differences in futility criteria.
CONCLUSION: Daclatasvir plus pegIFN/RBV demonstrated noninferiority to telaprevir plus pegIFN/RBV for SVR12 and was well-tolerated in treatment-naive GT1b-infected patients, supporting the use of daclatasvir with other direct-acting antivirals.
Direct-acting antiviral; Chronic hepatitis C; Daclatasvir; Genotype 1b; NS5A inhibitor; Liver disease
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
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.
Hepatitis C virus infection and interferon treatment are often associated with anxiety, depressive symptoms and poor health-related quality of life.
To evaluate the Silybin-vitamin E-phospholipids complex effect on work ability and whether health related factors (anxiety and depression) were associated with work ability in subjects with chronic hepatitis C treated with Pegylated-Interferon-α2b (Peg–IFN) and Ribavirin (RBV).
Thirty-one patients (Group A) with chronic hepatitis and other 31 subjects in Group B were recruited in a randomized, prospective, placebo controlled, double blind clinical trial. Group A received 1.5 mg/kg per week of Peg–IFN plus RBV and placebo, while Group B received the same dosage of Peg–IFN plus RBV plus association of Silybin 94 mg + vitamin E 30 mg + phospholipids 194 mg in pills for 12 months. All subjects underwent to laboratory exams and questionnaires to evaluate depression (Beck Depression Inventory - BDI), anxiety (State-trait anxiety inventory - STAI) and work ability (Work ability Index - WAI).
The comparison between group A and group B showed significant differences after 6 months in ALT (P < 0.001), and viremia (P < 0.05), after 12 months in ALT (P < 0.001), and AST (P < 0.001), at follow up in AST (P < 0.05), and ALT (P < 0.001). Significant difference were observed after 1 month in WAI (p < 0.001) and BDI (P < 0.05), after 6 months in WAI (P < 0.05) and STAI (P < 0.05), after 12 months and at follow up in WAI, STAI and BDI (p < 0.01).
The supplementation with Silybin-vitamin E -phospholipids complex increased work ability and reduced depression and anxiety in patients treated with Peg–IFN and RBV.
NCT01957319, First received: September 25, 2013. Last updated: September 30, 2013 (retrospectively registered).
Silybin; Interferon; Hepatitis C; Depression; Anxiety; Work ability index
Incident infections during treatment with peginterferon and ribavirin for chronic hepatitis C virus infection are associated with on-treatment lymphocytopenia, female sex, and baseline depression, but not with on-treatment neutropenia.
Background. Myelosuppression due to pegylated interferon (peg-IFN) is common during treatment for hepatitis C virus. The relationship between infection risk and decreases in leukocyte lines, however, is not well established. The objective of this analysis was to determine the incidence of and risk factors for infections during peg-IFN/ribavirin (RBV) therapy.
Methods. A total of 3070 treatment-naive, chronic hepatitis C genotype 1–infected patients were treated for up to 48 weeks with peg-IFN alfa-2b 1.5 µg/kg/week or 1 µg/kg/week, or peg-IFN alfa-2a 180 µg/week plus RBV. On-treatment leukocyte counts were obtained every 2–6 weeks. Dose reduction was required for a neutrophil count <0.75 × 109 cells/L, and treatment discontinuation was required for a neutrophil count <0.5 × 109 cells/L. Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor was prohibited. Data on infections were captured at each study visit and categorized according to MedDRA version 13.0.
Results. A total of 581 (19%) patients experienced moderate, severe, or life-threatening infections as assessed by the investigator; 648 (21%) patients had at least 1 neutrophil count <0.75 × 109 cells/L, but only 242 (8%) sustained an infection and had a neutrophil count <0.75 × 109 cells/L at any time while on treatment. Twelve patients had severe or life-threatening infection and grade 3/4 neutropenia, but only 4 had temporally related infections. In a multivariate logistic regression model, nadir lymphocyte count, history of depression, and female sex, but not nadir neutrophil count, were associated with moderate, severe, or life-threatening infection.
Conclusions. Nadir lymphocyte count, not nadir neutrophil count, was independently associated with moderate, severe, or life-threatening infections in the IDEAL study. Clinicians should be aware of their patients' absolute lymphocyte counts during peg-IFN/RBV therapy; peg-IFN dose reductions may be a consideration in patients with significant lymphocytopenia (<0.5 × 109 cells/L).
hepatitis C virus; lymphopenia; infections; neutropenia; interferon
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
Peg-interferon (PegIFN)α2a or PegIFNα2b plus ribavirin (RBV) is the standard therapy for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in Taiwan and Asia. It is commonly associated with adverse effects, but the issue of sexual and mental health is not well reported. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of anti-viral therapy with PegIFNα plus RBV on sexual desire and depression.
This prospective cohort study from 2009 to 2014 enrolled 181 patients with HCV who received PegIFNα2a (180 mcg/week) or PegIFNα2b (1.5 mcg/Kg/week) plus RBV (800–1200 mg/day) according to response-guide therapy for 24 to 48 weeks in a tertiary medical center. Patients with decreased sexual desire (DSD) before PegIFNα plus RBV were excluded. Patients were evaluated at baseline (week 0) and after 2, 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, and 24 weeks of PegIFNα plus RBV treatment using the structured Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview, for the diagnosis of a major depressive episode, and the 21-item Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), for monitoring depressive symptoms. The 21st item of the BDI was used to evaluate DSD.
During therapy, 124 (68.5%) patients had DSD. The BDI score peaked at 14.8 weeks. The severity of DSD was greatest at 16 weeks of treatment. The average score of the 21st item of the BDI correlated with DSD. Depression history and the prevalence of subsequent major depressive disorder after anti-viral therapy was correlated to DSD (p = 0.05 and 0.001). Male patients complained of DSD more significantly than females (p = 0.031).
Decreased sexual desire is common but is usually neglected in patients with chronic hepatitis C undergoing anti-viral therapy, especially among male patients. Physicians must be monitoring the side effects of sexual health and depression.
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.
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-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.
Using an inclusive HCV treatment protocol that encourages prospective engagement in care, HIV-infected patients with and without ongoing barriers to care had similar chances of HCV sustained viral response irrespective of which HCV treatment regimen was used.
Background. Access to hepatitis C virus (HCV) medications for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients with ongoing barriers to care is restricted by healthcare payers in the absence of HCV treatment outcomes data in the era of direct-acting antivirals (DAA).
Methods. Retrospective analysis of HCV treatment outcomes using interferon (IFN)-free DAA regimens and an inclusive treatment protocol in an urban HIV clinic where ongoing barriers to care (drug or alcohol use, psychiatric disease, and/or unstable housing) are common. Then, using logistic regression analysis, we compared the proportion of HIV-infected patients who achieved HCV sustained viral response (SVR) in the pegylated-IFN plus ribavirin (PEG-IFN/RBV, 2008–2011), pegylated-IFN plus ribavirin and telaprevir (PEG-IFN/RBV/PI, 2011–2013), and IFN-free DAA therapy eras (2014). Results are displayed using forest plots.
Results. The proportion of patients who achieved HCV SVR in the PEG-IFN/RBV, PEG-IFN/RBV/PI, and IFN-free DAA therapy eras increased from 38.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 23.2–53.7) and 48% (95% CI, 28.4–67.6) to 83.3% (95% CI, 70.0–96.7), respectively. Similar proportions of patients with ongoing barriers to care were treated during the PEG-IFN/RBV (25 of 39 [64%]), PEG-IFN/RBV/PI (14 of 25 [56%]), and IFN-free DAA (16 of 30 [53%]) eras. Hepatitis C virus SVR among patients with ongoing barriers to care improved from 40% (95% CI, 21–59) to 76.5% (95% CI, 56–97) in the PEG-IFN/RBV and IFN-free DAA eras, respectively. After stratification for factors associated with HCV SVR such as HCV genotype and cirrhosis, HCV SVR were similar in patients regardless of the presence of ongoing barriers to care.
Conclusions. Using IFN-free DAA and an inclusive HCV treatment protocol, 76.5% of HIV/HCV-treated patients with ongoing barriers to care achieved HCV SVR.
barriers to care; DAA; HCV; HIV
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
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
The use of pegylated interferon alpha and ribavirin (PegIFN/RBV) for the retreatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection without a sustained virological response (SVR) prior to PegIFN/RBV treatment has resulted in low success rates.
To investigate the efficacy and safety of telaprevir (TVR) in combination with PegIFN/RBV in patients infected with HCV genotypes 1 and 4 who were previously treated with PegIFN/RBV and failed to achieve SVR.
Multi-center, retrospective, cross-sectional study.
The study included 111 patients: 80 prior relapsers, 25 prior null responders, and six prior partial responders to PegIFN/RBV treatment. The patients were given TVR/PegIFN/RBV for 12 weeks, followed by a 12-week PegIFN/RBV treatment; virological response results were assessed at weeks 4, 12, and 24. Treatment was discontinued in patients with HCV RNA >1000 IU/mL at week 4 or with negative RNA results at week 4 but >1000 IU/mL at week 12. Rapid virological response (RVR), early virological response (EVR), extended rapid virological response (eRVR), and virological response at 24th week of treatment were evaluated. The side effects of combination therapy and the rates of treatment discontinuation were investigated.
The mean age of the patients was 56.02±9.96 years and 45.9% were male. Ninety-one percent of the patients were infected with viral genotype 1, 69.6% with the interleukin (IL) 28B genotype CT and 20.2% were cirrhotic. The RVR rate was 86.3% in prior relapsers, 56% in prior null responders, and 50% in prior partial responders (p=0.002). EVR rates in those groups were 91.3%, 56%, and 83.3%, respectively (p<0.001). eRVR rates were 83.8% in prior relapsers, 48% in prior null responders, and 50% in prior partial responders (<0.001). The virological response at the 24th week of treatment was found to be the highest in prior relapsers (88.8%); it was 56% in prior null responders and 66.7% in prior partial responders (p<0.001). Common side effects were fatigue, headache, anorexia, malaise, anemia, pruritus, dry skin, rash, dyspepsia, nausea, pyrexia, stomachache, and anorectal discomfort. All treatments were discontinued due to side effects in 9.9% of patients.
High virological response rates were obtained with TVR/PegIFN/RBV treatment. Although side effects were frequently observed, the discontinuation rate of combination therapy was low.
Chronic hepatitis C; telaprevir; therapy; treatment-experienced
AIM: To investigate if correction of hypovitaminosis D before initiation of Peg-interferon-alpha/ribavirin (PegIFN/RBV) therapy could improve the efficacy of PegIFN/RBV in previously null-responder patients with chronic genotype 1 or 4 hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.
METHODS: Genotype 1 or 4 HCV-infected patients with null response to previous PegIFN/RBV treatment and with hypovitaminosis D (< 30 ng/mL) prospectively received cholecalciferol 100000 IU per week for 4 wk [from week -4 (W-4) to W0], followed by 100000 IU per month in combination with PegIFN/RBV for 12 mo (from W0 to W48). The primary outcome was the rate of early virological response defined by an HCV RNA < 12 IU/mL after 12 wk PegIFN/RBV treatment.
RESULTS: A total of 32 patients were included, 19 (59%) and 13 (41%) patients were HCV genotype 1 and 4, respectively. The median baseline vitamin D level was 15 ng/mL (range: 7-28). In modified intention-to-treat analysis, 29 patients who received at least one dose of PegIFN/RBV were included in the analysis. All patients except one normalized their vitamin D serum levels. The rate of early virologic response was 0/29 (0%). The rate of HCV RNA < 12 IU/mL after 24 wk of PegIFN/RBV was 1/27 (4%). The safety profile was favorable.
CONCLUSION: Addition of vitamin D to PegIFN/RBV does not improve the rate of early virologic response in previously null-responders with chronic genotype 1 or 4 HCV infection.
Vitamin D; Hepatitis C virus; Chronic hepatitis; Pegylated interferon; Ribavirin
Two functional variants in the inosine triphosphatase (ITPA) gene causing inosine triphos-phatase (ITPase) deficiency protect against ribavirin (RBV)-induced hemolytic anemia and the need for RBV dose reduction in patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C virus (HCV). No data are available for genotype 2/3 HCV. We evaluated the association between the casual ITPA variants and on-treatment anemia in a well-characterized cohort of genotype 2/3 patients treated with variable-duration pegylated interferon alfa-2b (PEG-IFN-α2b) and RBV. Two hundred thirty-eight Caucasian patients were included in this retrospective study [185 (78%) with genotype 2 and 53 (22%) with genotype 3]. Patients were treated with PEG-IFN-α2b plus weight-based RBV (1000/1200 mg) for 12 (n = 109) or 24 weeks (n = 129). The ITPA polymorphisms rs1127354 and rs7270101 were genotyped, and an ITPase deficiency variable was defined that combined both ITPA variants according to their effect on ITPase activity. The primary endpoint was hemoglobin (Hb) reduction in week 4. We also considered Hb reduction over the course of therapy, the need for RBV dose modification, and the rate of sustained virological response (SVR). The ITPA variants were strongly and independently associated with protection from week 4 anemia (P = 10−6 for rs1127354 and P = 10−7 for rs7270101). Combining the variants into the ITPase deficiency variable increased the strength of association (P = 10−11). ITPase deficiency protected against anemia throughout treatment. ITPase deficiency was associated with a delayed time to an Hb level < 10 g/dL (hazard ratio = 0.25, 95% confidence interval = 0.08–0.84, P = 0.025) but not with the rate of RBV dose modification (required per protocol at Hb < 9.5 g/dL). There was no association between the ITPA variants and SVR.
Two ITPA variants were strongly associated with protection against treatment-related anemia in patients with genotype 2/3 HCV, but they did not decrease the need for RBV dose reduction or increase the rate of SVR.
Though an important percentage of patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) undergoing interferon (IFN) therapy develop depressive symptoms, the role of the IFN system in the pathogenesis of depressive disorders is not well understood.
50 patients with HCV infection were treated with standard combination therapy (pegylated IFN-α2a/ribavirin). IFN-induced gene expression was analyzed to identify genes which are differentially regulated in patients with or without IFN-induced depression. For validation, PBMC from 22 psychiatric patients with a severe depressive episode (SDE) and 11 controls were cultivated in vitro with pegylated IFN-α2a and gene expression was analyzed.
IFN-induced depression in HCV patients was associated with selective upregulation of 15 genes, including 6 genes that were previously described to be relevant for major depressive disorders or neuronal development. In addition, increased endogenous IFN-production and selective hyper-responsiveness of these genes to IFN stimulation were observed in SDE patients.
Our data suggest that selective hyper-responsiveness to exogenous (IFN therapy) or endogenous (depressive disorders) type I IFNs may lead to the development of depressive symptoms. These data could lead to the discovery of novel therapeutic approaches to treat IFN-induced and major depressive disorders.
HIV/hepatitis C virus (HCV) patients have a 3-fold increased fracture incidence compared to uninfected patients. The impact of HCV therapy on bone health is unclear. We evaluated bone turnover markers (BTM) in well-controlled (HIV RNA <50 copies/ml) HIV/HCV-coinfected patients who received pegylated interferon-α and ribavirin (PEG-IFN/RBV) in ACTG trial A5178. Early virologic responders (EVR: ≥2 log HCV RNA drop at week 12) continued PEG-IFN/RBV and non-EVRs were randomized to continuation of PEG-IFN alone or observation. We assessed changes in C-terminal telopeptide of type 1 collagen (CTX; bone resorption marker) and procollagen type I intact N-terminal propeptide (P1NP; bone formation marker), and whether BTM changes were associated with EVR, complete early virologic response (cEVR: HCV RNA <600 IU/ml at week 12), or PEG-IFN treatment. A total of 192 subjects were included. After 12 weeks of PEG-IFN/RBV, CTX and P1NP decreased: −120 pg/ml and −8.48 μg/liter, respectively (both p < 0.0001). CTX declines were greater in cEVR (N = 91; vs. non-cEVR (N = 101; p = 0.003). From week 12 to 24, CTX declines were sustained among EVR patients who continued PEG-IFN/RBV (p = 0.027 vs. non-EVR) and among non-EVR patients who continued PEG-IFN alone (p = 0.022 vs. Observation). Median decreases of P1NP in EVR vs. non-EVR were similar at weeks 12 and 24. PEG-IFN-based therapy for chronic HCV markedly reduces bone turnover. It is unclear whether this is a direct IFN effect or a result of HCV viral clearance, or whether they will result in improved bone mineral density. Further studies with IFN-free regimens should explore these questions.