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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.  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
3.  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
4.  Endoscopic sclerotherapy compared with no specific treatment for the primary prevention of bleeding from esophageal varices. A randomized controlled multicentre trial [ISRCTN03215899] 
BMC Gastroenterology  2003;3:22.
Since esophageal variceal bleeding is associated with a high mortality rate, prevention of bleeding might be expected to result in improved survival. The first trials to evaluate prophylactic sclerotherapy found a marked beneficial effect of prophylactic treatment. These results, however, were not generally accepted because of methodological aspects and because the reported incidence of bleeding in control subjects was considered unusually high. The objective of this study was to compare endoscopic sclerotherapy (ES) with nonactive treatment for the primary prophylaxis of esophageal variceal bleeding in patients with cirrhosis.
166 patients with esophageal varices grade II, III of IV according to Paquet's classification, with evidence of active or progressive liver disease and without prior variceal bleeding, were randomized to groups receiving ES (n = 84) or no specific treatment (n = 82). Primary end-points were incidence of bleeding and mortality; secondary end-points were complications and costs.
During a mean follow-up of 32 months variceal bleeding occurred in 25% of the patients of the ES group and in 28% of the control group. The incidence of variceal bleeding for the ES and control group was 16% and 16% at 1 year and 33% and 29% at 3 years, respectively. The 1-year survival rate was 87% for the ES group and 84% for the control group; the 3-year survival rate was 62% for each group. In the ES group one death occurred as a direct consequence of variceal bleeding compared to 9 in the other group (p = 0.01, log-rank test). Complications were comparable for the two groups. Health care costs for patients assigned to ES were estimated to be higher. Meta-analysis of a large number of trials showed that the effect of prophylactic sclerotherapy is significantly related to the baseline bleeding risk.
In the present trial, prophylactic sclerotherapy did not reduce the incidence of bleeding from varices in patients with liver cirrhosis and a low to moderate bleeding risk. Although sclerotherapy lowered mortality attributable to variceal bleeding, overall survival was not affected. The effect of prophylactic sclerotherapy seems dependent on the underlying bleeding risk. A beneficial effect can only be expected for patients with a high risk for bleeding.
PMCID: PMC194733  PMID: 12919638
5.  Changes in anti-viral effectiveness of interferon after dose reduction in chronic hepatitis c patients: a case control study 
BMC Gastroenterology  2001;1:14.
High dose interferon induction treatment of hepatitis C viral infection blocks viral production over 95%. Since dose reduction is often performed due to clinical considerations, the effect of dose reduction on hepatitis C virus kinetics was studied.
A new model that allowed longitudinal changes in the parameters of viral dynamics was used in a group of genotype-1 patients (N = 15) with dose reduction from 10 to 3 million units of interferon daily in combination with ribavirin, in comparison to a control group (N = 9) with no dose reduction.
Dose reduction gave rise to a complex viral kinetic pattern, which could be only explained by a decrease in interferon effectiveness in blocking virion production. The benefit of the rapid initial viral decline following the high induction dose is lost after dose reduction. In addition, in some patients also the second phase viral decline slope, which is highly predictive of success of treatment, was impaired by the dose reduction resulting in smaller percentage of viral clearance in the dose reduction group.
These findings, while explaining the failure of many induction schedules, suggest that for genotype-1 patients induction therapy should be continued till HCVRNA negativity in serum in order to increase the sustained response rate for chronic hepatitis C.
PMCID: PMC64636  PMID: 11801193

Results 1-5 (5)