Prospective study of short-term peginterferon-alpha-2a monotherapy in patients who had a virological response at 2 weeks after initiation of interferon therapy

Department of Medicine and Molecular Science, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan.
Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Impact Factor: 3.63). 05/2008; 23(4):541-5. DOI: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2008.05356.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Long-term interferon (IFN) therapy is effective in eliminating hepatitis C virus (HCV). However, it carries the risk of adverse effects and reduced quality of life. To assess whether short-term IFN therapy effectively eliminates HCV, we performed a prospective pilot study of pegylated (peg)IFN-alpha-2a therapy for 8 or 24 weeks.
After excluding patients with high titers of genotype-1, 55 HCV patients received pegIFN-alpha-2a. Patients who became negative for HCV-RNA at week 2 were allocated to either an 8-week (n = 19) or 24-week (n = 15) course of IFN. We evaluated the efficacy of and tolerance to IFN therapy.
The sustained virological response rate was excellent in the two groups (8 weeks, 89.5% [17/19]; 24 weeks, 100% [15/15], respectively,). IFN dose reduction was required in one patient of the 8-week group, but in six patients of the 24-week group (P = 0.028). Treatment was completed by all patients of the 8-week group, but discontinued in five patients of the 24-week group (P = 0.011).
The 8-week IFN therapy is more tolerable than the 24-week therapy and had similar outcomes. Excluding the patients with high titers of genotype-1, we recommend switching to an 8-week course of pegIFN-alpha monotherapy once patients show an ultra rapid virological response at week 2 from the start of IFN therapy.

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