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1.  Long-term effects of treatment and response in patients with chronic hepatitis C on quality of life. An international, multicenter, randomized, controlled study 
BMC Gastroenterology  2012;12:11.
Hepatitis C decreases health related quality of life (HRQL) which is further diminished by antiviral therapy. HRQL improves after successful treatment. This trial explores the course of and factors associated with HRQL in patients given individualized or standard treatment based on early treatment response (Ditto-study).
The Short Form (SF)-36 Health Survey was administered at baseline (n = 192) and 24 weeks after the end of therapy (n = 128).
At baseline HRQL was influenced by age, participating center, severity of liver disease and income. Exploring the course of HRQL (scores at follow up minus baseline), only the dimension general health increased. In this dimension patients with a relapse or sustained response differed from non-responders. Men and women differed in the dimension bodily pain. Treatment schedule did not influence the course of HRQL.
Main determinants of HRQL were severity of liver disease, age, gender, participating center and response to treatment. Our results do not exclude a more profound negative impact of individualized treatment compared to standard, possibly caused by higher doses and extended treatment duration in the individualized group. Antiviral therapy might have a more intense and more prolonged negative impact on females.
PMCID: PMC3293759  PMID: 22292521
health related quality of life; hepatitis C; peginterferon
2.  Trends in liver transplantation for primary biliary cirrhosis in the Netherlands 1988-2008 
BMC Gastroenterology  2010;10:144.
A decrease in the need for liver transplantations (LTX) in Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC), possibly related to treatment with ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), has been reported in the USA and UK. The aim of this study was to assess LTX requirements in PBC over the past 20 years in the Netherlands.
Analysis of PBC transplant data of the Dutch Organ Transplant Registry during the period 1988-2008, including both absolute and proportional numbers. The indication for LTX was categorized as liver failure, hepatocellular carcinoma or poor quality of life (severe fatigue or pruritus). Data were analysed for two decades: 1.1.1988-31.12.1997 (1st) and 1.1.1998-31.12.2007 (2nd). The severity of disease was quantified using MELD scores. To fit lines which show trends over time we applied a linear regression model.
A total of 110 patients (87% women) was placed on the waiting list. 105 patients were transplanted (1st: 61, 2nd: 44), 5 (5%) died while listed. The absolute annual number of LTX for PBC slightly decreased during the 20 year period, the proportional number decreased significantly. At the time of LTX the mean age was 53.6 yrs. (1st: 53.4, 2nd: 53.8), the mean MELD score 13.9 (1st:14.5, 2nd:13.0). The median interval from diagnosis to LTX was 90.5 months (1st:86.5, 2nd: 93.5). 69% of patients was treated with UDCA (1st 38%, 2nd 82%).
Over the past 20 years the absolute number of LTX for PBC in the Netherlands showed a tendency to decrease whereas the proportional decrease was significant. There was a trend over time toward earlier transplantation.
PMCID: PMC3020176  PMID: 21172005
3.  Fluvoxamine for fatigue in primary biliary cirrhosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis: a randomised controlled trial [ISRCTN88246634] 
BMC Gastroenterology  2004;4:13.
Fatigue is a major clinical problem in many patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). An effective treatment has not been defined. Recently, a large proportion of patients with these diseases was found to have symptoms of depression. Because fatigue is a frequent symptom of depression and there is some evidence that treatment with an antidepressant improves fatigue in patients with fibromyalgia, we hypothesised that the antidepressant fluvoxamine might improve fatigue related to PBC and PSC.
Fatigued patients were randomised to receive fluvoxamine (75 mg BID) or placebo for a six-week period. Fatigue and quality of life were quantified using a visual analogue scale, the Fisk Fatigue Severity Scale, the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory and the SF-36.
Seventeen and 16 patients were allocated to fluvoxamine and placebo, respectively. There was no statistically significant beneficial effect of fluvoxamine on fatigue or quality of life. The median VAS scores in the fluvoxamine and placebo groups were 7.40 and 7.45 at day 0, 6.9 and 7.15 at day 14, 7.45 and 7.65 at day 42 and 7.8 and 8.0 four weeks after treatment discontinuation.
We found no evidence for a beneficial effect of fluvoxamine on fatigue in these patients with cholestatic liver disease and severe chronic fatigue.
PMCID: PMC481069  PMID: 15251034
4.  Generic and disease-specific health related quality of life in non-cirrhotic, cirrhotic and transplanted liver patients: a cross-sectional study 
BMC Gastroenterology  2003;3:33.
Studies on Health Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) of chronic liver patients were performed in clinical populations. These studies included various disease stages but small variations in aetiology and no transplanted patients. We performed a large HRQoL study in non-cirrhotic, cirrhotic and transplanted liver patients with sufficient variety in aetiology. We compared the generic HRQoL and fatigue between liver patients and healthy controls and compared the disease-specific and generic HRQoL and fatigue between non-cirrhotic, cirrhotic and transplanted liver patients, corrected for aetiology.
Members of the Dutch liver patient association received the Short Form-36, the Liver Disease Symptom Index and the Multidimensional Fatigue Index-20. Based on reported clinical characteristics we classified respondents (n = 1175) as non-cirrhotic, compensated cirrhotic, decompensated cirrhotic or transplants. We used linear, ordinal and logistic regression to compare the HRQoL between groups.
All liver patients showed a significantly worse generic HRQoL and fatigue than healthy controls. Decompensated cirrhotic patients showed a significantly worse disease-specific and generic HRQoL and fatigue than non-cirrhotic patients, while HRQoL differences between non-cirrhotic and compensated cirrhotic patients were predominantly insignificant. Transplanted patients showed a better generic HRQoL, less fatigue and lower probabilities of severe symptoms than non-cirrhotic patients, but almost equal probabilities of symptom hindrance.
HRQoL in chronic liver patients depends on disease stage and transplant history. Non-cirrhotic and compensated cirrhotic patients have a similar HRQoL. Decompensated patients show the worst HRQoL, while transplanted patients show a significantly better HRQoL than cirrhotic and non-cirrhotic patients.
PMCID: PMC293464  PMID: 14617381
5.  Retreatment of hepatitis C non-responsive to Interferon. A placebo controlled randomized trial of Ribavirin monotherapy versus combination therapy with Ribavirin and Interferon in 121 patients in the Benelux [ISRCTN53821378] 
BMC Gastroenterology  2003;3:24.
Evidence based medicine depends on unbiased selection of completed randomized controlled trials. For completeness it is important to publish all trials. This report describes the first large randomised controlled trial where combination therapy was compared to placebo therapy and to ribavirin monotherapy, which has not been published untill now.
One hundred and twenty one patients with chronic hepatitis C and elevated transaminases who did not respond to previous treatment with standard interferon monotherapy, were included from 16 centers in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg between 1992 and 1996. Patient poor-response characteristics were: genotype 1 (69%), HCV RNA above 2 × 106 copies/ml (55%) and cirrhosis (38%). Patients were randomized to 6 months combination therapy with interferon alpha-2b (3 MU tiw) and ribavirin (1000–1200 mg / day), 6 months ribavirin monotherapy (1000–1200 mg / day) or 6 months ribavirin placebo. The study was double blinded for the ribavirin / placebo component. One patient did not fit the entry criteria, and 3 did not start. All 117 patients who received at least one dose of treatment were included in the intention to treat analysis.
At the end of treatment, HCV RNA was undetectable in 35% of patients on combination therapy and in none of the patients treated with ribavirin monotherapy or placebo. The sustained virological response rate at 6 months after therapy was 15% for patients treated with interferon and ribavirin.
During the 6 months treatment period 13% of patients on interferon ribavirin combination therapy, 13% of patients on ribavirin monotherapy and 11% of patients on placebo withdrew due to side effects or noncompliance. At 24 weeks of treatment the mean Hb level was 85% of the baseline value, which means a mean decrease from 9.1 mmol/l to 7.8 mmol/l. The Hb levels at the end of treatment were not significantly different from patients treated with ribavirin monotherapy (p = 0.76). End of treatment WBC was significantly lower in patients treated with combination therapy, compared to ribavirin (p < 0.01) as well as for patients treated with ribavirin monotherapy compared to placebo (p < 0.01).
This belated report on the only placebo controlled study of interferon ribavirin combination therapy in non responders to standard doses of interferon monotherapy documents the effectiveness, be it limited, of this approach as well as the dynamics of the effects on blood counts.
PMCID: PMC222984  PMID: 12948399
Hepatitis C; Treatment; Randomised controlled trial; Interferon; Ribavirin; Non-responders; Monotherapy; Placebo

Results 1-5 (5)