Re-treatment of Children With Chronic Hepatitis C Who Did Not Respond to Interferon-α Treatment

Witten/Herdecke University, Witten, Germany.
Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition (Impact Factor: 2.63). 08/2010; 51(2):187-90. DOI: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3181d9c7f6
Source: PubMed


Many patients with chronic hepatitis C do not respond to antiviral treatment. In adult patients the re-treatment of these patients has been extensively investigated. Because the response to re-treatment in children is not well defined we evaluated the efficacy and safety of interferon (IFN)-alpha plus ribavirin in patients who have failed to respond to previous treatment.
In an open-label, uncontrolled study, 18 chronically infected children were investigated. Fifteen children had been treated with IFN-alpha plus ribavirin and 3 patients with IFN-alpha alone. Fourteen patients were nonresponders; 4 experienced viral breakthrough during treatment and/or relapse after treatment. Patients received IFN-alpha 3 times per week subcutaneously plus ribavirin for 48 weeks. Sixteen patients were infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1, 2 with genotype 4, and 1 with genotype 3 and co-infection with hepatitis B.
Four patients showed early viral response to therapy and became HCV-RNA negative after 12 weeks. Sustained viral response (HCV-RNA negative 6 months after end of treatment) was documented in 2 of them. These 2 patients belonged to the group of 4 children who relapsed or experienced a viral breakthrough during previous treatment. None of the 14 patients with prior nonresponse had sustained viral response.
Re-treatment with IFN-alpha plus ribavirin may be useful in children who relapsed in a previous antiviral treatment but seems not to be useful in nonresponders. These results are in line with studies from adult patients and should be therefore encouraged to provide a second chance for healing in a subgroup of patients.

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