Interstitial pneumonitis after combination therapy with pegylated interferon alpha-2b and ribavirin for chronic hepatitis C.

Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Niaosung Shiang, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Chang Gung medical journal 30(1):92-7.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Pulmonary toxicity is a rare but potentially fatal side effect occurring during interferon (IFN) alpha treatment for chronic hepatitis C. We present a 47-year-old woman who had chronic hepatitis C and was treated with pegylated IFN alpha-2b in combination with ribavirin, with a good virological response by week 10 of therapy. Then the patient began to complain of dyspnea on exertion and a dry cough. A diagnosis of interstitial pneumonitis was made according to the results of chest X-rays, high resolution computed tomography and bronchoalveolar lavage analysis. Pegylated IFN alpha-2b has a longer absorption and elimination half-life than conventional IFN alpha-2b and a comparable potency to conventional IFN alpha-2b. Although the tolerability of pegylated IFN alpha is comparable to that of conventional IFN alpha, pulmonary toxicity may occur more frequently with long-acting pegylated IFN alpha therapy at an inappropriately high dose. Based on a MEDLINE search up to 2004, we believe that this is the first reported case of a patient recovering from interstitial pneumonitis associated with pegylated IFN alpha-2b for chronic hepatitis C. Physicians should keep in mind the possibility of this complication when treating chronic hepatitis C patients with pegylated IFN alpha-2b and ribavirin combinational therapy.

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