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1.  Interferon-λ3 polymorphisms in pegylated-interferon-α plus ribavirin therapy for genotype-2 chronic hepatitis C 
AIM: To evaluate interferon-λ3 (IFNL3) polymorphisms in response-guided pegylated interferon-α plus ribavirin (Peg-IFNα/RBV) therapy for genotype 2 (G2) chronic hepatitis C.
METHODS: Between January 2006 and June 2012, a total of 180 patients with chronic infections of G2 hepatitis C virus (HCV) were treated with response-guided Peg-IFNα/RBV therapy. The treatment duration was 24 wk for patients who achieved rapid virologic response (RVR), and 36 or 48 wk for patients who did not. Then, the impact of the IFNL3 single nucleotide polymorphism genotype (TT/non-TT at rs8099917) on treatment outcomes was evaluated in the 180 patients, and between patients infected with either HCV sub-genotype 2a or 2b.
RESULTS: Of the 180 patients evaluated, 111 achieved RVR, while the remaining 69 patients did not. In RVR patients, the sustained virologic response (SVR) rate was 96.4%, and the IFNL3 genotype did not influence the SVR rate (96.6% vs 95.8% in IFNL3 genotype TT vs non-TT). However, in non-RVR patients, the SVR rate decreased to 72.5% (P < 0.0001), and this rate was significantly different between the IFNL3 genotype TT and non-TT groups (80.0% vs 42.9%, P = 0.0146). Multivariate regression analysis in non-RVR patients identified the IFNL3 genotype TT as the only baseline-significant factor associated with SVR (OR = 5.39, 95%CI: 1.29-22.62; P = 0.0189). In analysis according to HCV sub-genotype, no significant difference in the SVR rate was found between HCV sub-genotypes 2a and 2b.
CONCLUSION: In response-guided Peg-IFNα/RBV combination therapy for chronically HCV G2-infected patients, the impact of the IFNL3 genotype on SVR was limited to non-RVR patients.
PMCID: PMC4385537  PMID: 25852275
Hepatitis C virus genotype 2; Interferon-λ3 single nucleotide polymorphism; Pegylated-interferon plus ribavirin response-guided therapy; Rapid virologic response; Sustained virologic response
2.  Predictors of Response to 24-Week Telaprevir-Based Triple Therapy for Treatment-Naïve Genotype 1b Chronic Hepatitis C Patients 
We evaluated the genetic variation in rs8099917, substitutions in core amino acid (aa) 70, and the number of aa substitutions in the interferon sensitivity-determining region (ISDR) on the prediction of sustained virological response (SVR) in treatment-naïve hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1b (G1b) patients. This multicenter study involved 150 Asian treatment-naïve patients infected with HCV G1b who received 12 weeks of telaprevir in combination with 24 weeks of peginterferon-α-2b and ribavirin. The baseline and treatment-related factors potentially associated with SVR were determined by multivariate logistic regression analysis. Virological response was analyzed on an intent-to-treat basis. Cessation of the therapy due to adverse effects occurred in only 2 patients, who discontinued the trial at 10 weeks and at 2 weeks due to cerebral infarction and renal impairment, respectively. Among the 150 patients in whom the final virological response was determined, only genotype TT in rs8099917 was identified as a pretreatment predictor (P = 7.38 × 10−4). Achievement of a rapid virological response (RVR), defined as undetectable HCV RNA at week 4 of treatment, was identified as an after-starting-treatment predictor (P = 2.47 × 10−5). However, neither a substitution in core aa 70 nor the number of substitutions in the ISDR affected treatment outcome.
PMCID: PMC4150495  PMID: 25197269
3.  Efficacy of Alfacalcidol on PEG-IFN/ Ribavirin Combination Therapy for Elderly Patients With Chronic Hepatitis C: A Pilot Study 
Hepatitis Monthly  2013;13(12):e14872.
Serum vitamin D concentration is reported to show a decrease in older age. Patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) in Japan are older on average than those in Western countries. Moreover, the outcome of pegylated-interferon (PEG-IFN)/ ribavirin therapy combined with vitamin D in elderly patients is unclear.
This pilot study explored the efficacy and safety of alfacalcidol as vitamin D source in PEG-IFN/ ribavirin combination therapy for elderly CHC patients infected with hepatitis C virus genotype 1b.
Patients and Methods
Consecutive twenty CHC patients aged ≥ 65 years were enrolled in this pilot study. Fifteen patients met the inclusion criteria and received PEG-IFN/ ribavirin therapy combined with alfacalcidol. Four-week lead-in of oral alfacalcidol was conducted, and it was subsequently and concurrently administered in PEG-IFN/ ribavirin combination therapy (vitamin D group). Age, gender, and IL28B genotype-matched patients, who received PEG-IFN/ ribavirin alone, were saved as control group (n = 15) to compare the treatment outcome with the vitamin D group.
Subjects consisted of 14 males and 16 females, with a median age of 70 years (65-78). The serum 25 (OH) D3 concentration in females (20 ng/ml, 11-37) was significantly lower than males (27 ng/mL, 13-49) (P = 0.004). Sustained virological response (SVR) rates were 33.3% (5/15) in the control group and 80.0% (12/15) in the vitamin D group, respectively (P = 0.025). While no significant difference was shown in the (SVR) rate between the two groups among males (P = 0.592), in females the SVR rate was significantly higher in the vitamin D group (87.5%, 7/8) than the control group (25.0%, 2/8) (P = 0.041). The relapse rates in the groups with and without alfacalcidol were 7.7% (1/13) and 61.5% (8/13), respectively (P = 0.011). Interestingly, in females, the relapse in the control group was shown in 5 of 7 (71.4%), whereas in the vitamin D group the relapse rate was decreased (1/8, 12.5%) (P = 0.041). No specific adverse events were observed in the vitamin D group.
PEG-IFN/ ribavirin combined with alfacalcidol may be effective and safe in elderly CHC patients. In particular, concomitant administration of alfacalcidol may lead to a reduced relapse rate, and consequently improving the SVR rate in elderly females.
PMCID: PMC3877658  PMID: 24403915
1-hydroxycholecalciferol; Vitamin D; Ribavirin; Aged; Hepatitis C, Chronic
4.  Serum Lipoprotein Profiles and Response to Pegylated Interferon Plus Ribavirin Combination Therapy in Patients With Chronic HCV Genotype 1b Infection 
Hepatitis Monthly  2013;13(5):e8988.
Abnormal serum lipid profiles have been noted in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Moreover, many reports suggest that serum lipoprotein profiles are more profoundly distorted in patients with HCV G1b infection who have an unfavorable response to pegylated interferon (peg-IFN) plus ribavirin (RBV) combination therapy. However, after the discovery of single nucleotide polymorphisms near the IL28B gene (rs8099917 and rs12979860) as potent predictive factors affecting the response to peg-IFN plus RBV, lipid factors are thought to be confounding factors.
To re-examine the significance of lipoprotein profiles on virological response to peg-IFN plus RBV combination therapy in patients with chronic HCV G1b infection, we examined cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations in each lipoprotein fraction separated by high performance liquid chromatography.
Patients and Methods
Lipoprotein profiles were examined using fasting sera from 108 patients infected with HCV G1b who had chronic hepatitis, as determined by liver biopsy. Results of lipoprotein profiles and clinical data, including IL28B genotype and amino acid substitution at aa70 of HCV G1b, were compared between patients with a sustained virological response (SVR) and non-SVR or a non-virological response (NVR) and virological responses other than NVR (non-NVR). In addition, significant predictive factors independently associated with virological response to peg-IFNα-2b plus RBV were determined by logistic regression analysis.
An increased ratio of cholesterol/triglyceride in very low-density lipoprotein (odds ratio (OR) 3.03; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01-9.44) along with a major genotype of rs8099917 (OR 9.09; 95% CI 2.94-33.33), were independent predictive factors for SVR. In contrast, lipid factors were not elucidated as independent predictive factors for NVR.
Examination of the fasting lipid profile has clinical importance in predicting the efficacy of peg-IFN-α-2b plus RBV combination therapy for patients with HCV G1b even after the discovery of the IL28 genotype as a potent predictive factor.
PMCID: PMC3743300  PMID: 23967025
Hepatitis C; Ribavirin; Lipoproteins; Lipoproteins VLDL; Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
5.  Significance of a reduction in HCV RNA levels at 4 and 12 weeks in patients infected with HCV genotype 1b for the prediction of the outcome of combination therapy with peginterferon and ribavirin 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:324.
The importance of the reduction in hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA levels 4 and 12 weeks after starting peginterferon (PEG-IFN) and ribavirin combination therapy has been reported to predict a sustained virologic response (SVR) in patients infected with HCV genotype 1. We conducted a multicenter study to validate this importance along with baseline predictive factors in this patient subpopulation.
A total of 516 patients with HCV genotype 1 and pretreatment HCV RNA levels ≥5.0 log10 IU/mL who completed response-guided therapy according to the AASLD guidelines were enrolled. The reduction in serum HCV RNA levels 4 and 12 weeks after starting therapy was measured using real-time PCR, and its value in predicting the likelihood of SVR was evaluated.
The area under the receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve was 0.852 for 4-week reduction and 0.826 for 12-week reduction of HCV RNA levels, respectively. When the cut-off is fixed at a 2.8-log10 reduction at 4 weeks and a 4.9-log10 reduction at 12 weeks on the basis of ROC analysis, the sensitivity and specificity for SVR were 80.9% and 77.9% at 4 weeks and were 89.0% and 67.2% at 12 weeks, respectively. These variables were independent factors associated with SVR in multivariate analysis. Among 99 patients who showed a delayed virologic response and completed 72-week extended regimen, the area under ROC curve was low: 0.516 for 4-week reduction and 0.482 for 12-week reduction of HCV RNA levels, respectively.
The reduction in HCV RNA levels 4 and 12 weeks after starting combination therapy is a strong independent predictor for SVR overall. These variables were not useful for predicting SVR in patients who showed a slow virologic response and experienced 72-week extended regimen.
PMCID: PMC3573976  PMID: 23181537
Chronic hepatitis C; Peginterferon; Ribavirin; Reduction in HCV RNA levels; Four and twelve weeks; Baseline factors; Response-guided therapy; Extended treatment
6.  Several factors including ITPA polymorphism influence ribavirin-induced anemia in chronic hepatitis C 
AIM: To construct formulae for predicting the likelihood of ribavirin-induced anemia in pegylated interferon α plus ribavirin for chronic hepatitis C.
METHODS: Five hundred and sixty-one Japanese patients with hepatitis C virus genotype 1b who had received combination treatment were enrolled and assigned randomly to the derivation and confirmatory groups. Single nucleotide polymorphisms at or nearby ITPA were genotyped by real-time detection polymerase chain reaction. Factors influencing significant anemia (hemoglobin concentration < 10.0 g/dL at week 4 of treatment) and significant hemoglobin decline (declining concentrations > 3.0 g/dL at week 4) were analyzed using multiple regression analyses. Prediction formulae were constructed by significantly independent factors.
RESULTS: Multivariate analysis for the derivation group identified four independent factors associated with significant hemoglobin decline: hemoglobin decline at week 2 [P = 3.29 × 10-17, odds ratio (OR) = 7.54 (g/dL)], estimated glomerular filtration rate [P = 2.16 × 10-4, OR = 0.962 (mL/min/1.73 m2)], rs1127354 (P = 5.75 × 10-4, OR = 10.94) and baseline hemoglobin [P = 7.86 × 10-4, OR = 1.50 (g/dL)]. Using the model constructed by these factors, positive and negative predictive values and predictive accuracy were 79.8%, 88.8% and 86.2%, respectively. For the confirmatory group, they were 83.3%, 91.0% and 88.3%. These factors were closely correlated with significant anemia. However, the model could not be constructed, because no patients with rs1127354 minor genotype CA/AA had significant anemia.
CONCLUSION: Reliable formulae for predicting the likelihood of ribavirin-induced anemia were constructed. Such modeling may be useful in developing individual tailoring and optimization of ribavirin dosage.
PMCID: PMC3491594  PMID: 23139603
Chronic hepatitis C virus infection; Ribavirin; Pegylated interferon α; Prediction model; Hemolytic anemia; Single nucleotide polymorphism
7.  Effects of branched-chain amino acid granules on serum albumin level and prognosis are dependent on treatment adherence in patients with liver cirrhosis 
Hepatology Research  2012;43(5):459-466.
To test if the treatment adherence to branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) granules influences the serum albumin level and prognosis in prospective 2984 patients with decompensated liver cirrhosis who were prescribed BCAA granules containing 952 mg of L-isoleucine, 1904 mg of L-leucine and 1144 mg of L-valine at 4.15 g/sachet three times a day after meals.
The primary end-point was the time to the event defined as “hospital admission due to progression of hepatic failure”, and factors affecting this outcome were explored. Changes in serum albumin level were evaluated as the secondary end-point.
Patients were divided into the good adherence group (those who reported to have taken “nearly all” prescribed doses) and the poor adherence group (those who reported to have taken “approximately half” or “less” doses), because such stratification was validated by treatment responses in plasma BCAA/tyrosine ratio. Factors related to the primary end-point were age, drug adherence during 6 months of study treatment, previous hepatic cancer, current clinical manifestations, previous clinical manifestations, baseline serum albumin level, platelet count and total bilirubin level. The cumulative event-free survival was significantly higher in the good adherence group. Increase in the serum albumin level was also greater in the good adherence group.
Higher BCAA treatment adherence better raised the serum albumin level, leading to improvement of event-free survival. These results indicate the importance of patient instruction for the adequate use of BCAA granules.
PMCID: PMC3708103  PMID: 23046471
branched-chain amino acids; hepatic failure; liver cirrhosis; prognosis; serum albumin; treatment adherence
8.  Pretreatment prediction of the outcome of response-guided peginterferon-α and ribavirin therapy for chronic hepatitis C 
Background and Aim
The accuracy for predicting virological outcomes of peginterferon-α and ribavirin therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis C is limited to approximately 80%, even with IL28B genotyping. Our in vitro study revealed that the numbers of (TA) dinucleotide repeats [(TA)n] of rs72258881, which is located in the promoter region of IL28B gene, might regulate IL28B transcription. We aimed to evaluate the usefulness of these host factors for predicting virological outcomes of this therapy in response-guided clinical settings.
A nationwide, multi-center prospective study in Japan determined IL28B (rs8099917) genotype, (TA)n of rs72258881, and amino acid substitutions of hepatitis C virus and used these for multivariate analysis together with other parameters at pretreatment.
After enrolling 215 patients with genotype 1 and high viral load from 23 hospitals between October 2009 and February 2011, intent-to-treat analysis identified 202 patients in whom the final virological outcomes could be determined. Non-virological response by non-TT genotype was predicted with 79.7% accuracy. When combined with the (TA)n, the incidences of virological response tended to be higher in the longer (TA)n group, regardless of rs8099917 genotype. Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that rs8099917 non-TT genotype (P < 0.001), shorter (TA)n (P = 0.011), mutation of amino acid 70 in the virus core region (P = 0.029), and lower levels of serum albumin (P = 0.036) were independently associated with non-virological response.
IL28B genotype and (TA)n of rs72258881 may independently affect virological outcomes of peginterferon-α and ribavirin as host factors, even in response-guided therapy.
PMCID: PMC4263356  PMID: 24910341
(TA) dinucleotide repeat; chronic hepatitis C; IL28B; response-guided therapy

Results 1-8 (8)