[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: An early drop of HCV-RNA levels is useful in assessing response to antiviral treatment in chronic hepatitis C; the first recommended time point is 4 weeks after the start of therapy. OBJECTIVES: We evaluated retrospectively HCV-RNA and HCVAg levels at different time points to assess the clinical value of an early monitoring. STUDY DESIGN: Thirty-five patients with chronic hepatitis C infected by genotype 1b and consecutively enrolled in an open-label study on PegIFN plus Ribavirin and/or ketoprofene were tested for HCV-RNA (real-time PCR) and HCVAg (ARCHITECT) at baseline and after 1 and 2 days and 1, 2, 4 and 12 weeks after the start of treatment. Treatment response was assessed according to the EASL consensus criteria. RESULTS: In the 17 sustained responders (SR) the median log decrease of HCV-RNA and HCVAg at the different time points was 0.40 and 0.37; 1.36 and 0.84; 1.47 and 0.97; 2.34 and 1.86; 2.51 and 2.32; 3.28 and 2.61, respectively. The best time point to predict SR was 2 weeks after the start of therapy, with a sensitivity, specificity and overall accuracy of 76.9%, 86.7% and 82.1% for HCV-RNA and 81.8%, 75.0% and 76.8% for HCVAg, respectively. DISCUSSION: An early monitoring is at least equally effective than standard monitoring in predicting response to hepatitis C therapy. The similarity of HCV-RNA and HCVAg kinetics suggests that HCVAg may be useful in the early phases as a trigger to evaluate HCV-RNA levels at earlier time points for a personalized approach to therapy monitoring.
Journal of clinical virology: the official publication of the Pan American Society for Clinical Virology 12/2012; · 3.12 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The current standard therapy for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the combination of peginterferon and ribavirin, although many patients fail to clear the virus and their retreatment options are still unsatisfactory. Thymosin alpha1 (Talpha1) is an immunomodulating agent that has been proposed as complementary therapy for chronic HCV, especially in the setting of difficult-to-treat patients. The aim of this study was to evaluate, in patients nonresponsive to previous Peg-based therapy, the effect of standard antiviral therapy with or without Talpha1 on peripheral lymphocyte subsets. Twenty-four patients, 12 receiving Talpha1 and 12 standard therapy, were enrolled. Peripheral subpopulations were analyzed by flow cytometry. Although the addition of Talpha1 did not seem to significantly modify the T-lymphocyte subpopulations, as comparable behaviors were observed in the CD4 and CD8 longitudinal evaluation, Talpha1 produced an earlier increase of natural killer cells. An accurate selection of HCV patients who can benefit from immunomodulation is needed.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 04/2010; 1194:147-52. · 4.38 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has been poorly investigated in the elderly. The aim of this study was to identify the age-specific characteristics of chronic hepatitis C by comparing patients > or =65 years with those <65 years. A cross-sectional study was performed on data collected from consecutive outpatients referred for the first time to two tertiary outpatient clinics for liver diseases located in Bologna (Northern Italy) and Paola, Cosenza (Southern Italy) over a two-year period. A total of 560 anti-HCV and HCV-RNA positive patients were enrolled, of whom 174 (31%) were 65 years or older. The proportion of older patients was significantly higher in the Southern Italy centre, accounting for more than 40%. Comparison of younger and older groups showed that 51% patients > or =65 years had advanced liver disease (liver cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma) compared with 26% younger patients (P < 0.0001). About half of the patients > or =65 years were not aware of their anti-HCV positive status, even if they tended to be more symptomatic than the younger group. By multivariate analysis, age > or = 65 years, alcohol consumption and diabetes were independently associated with advanced liver disease. Overall, 34 out of 174 patients (20%) > or =65 years had received antiviral treatment compared with 122 out of 386 (32%) younger patients (P = 0.003). Our results further emphasize the notion that chronic hepatitis C is becoming a disease of the elderly and that elderly patients with chronic HCV infection often have severe and underestimated disease.
Journal of Viral Hepatitis 09/2009; 17(5):360-6. · 3.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We assessed the efficacy and outcome of low through level of calcineurin inhibitors (CNI) and introducing mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) in liver transplant (LT) patients with CNI-related renal dysfunction. Thirty LT patients were converted to combined therapy and compared with 30 patients used as a contemporary control group receiving CNI only. The two groups were matched for sex, age, months after LT, immunosuppressive treatment, creatinine level, presence of diabetes and calculated glomerular filtration rate (GFR) via Cockroft-Gault method. After two years, in the MMF serum creatinine decreased from 1.65 mg/dL (range 1.33-3.5) to 1.4 mg/dL (range 0.9-4.7) (p = 0.002) and GFR increased from 51 mL/min (range 18.9-72.2) to 57.6 mL/min (range 16-92.2) (p < 0.001), whereas the controls not showed any improvement. The logistic regression models employing improvement of creatinine and GFR of at least 10% with respect to baseline as dependent variables showed the use of MMF (p = 0.004 and p = 0.019, respectively) as the only statistically significant parameter. Multiple linear regression analysis identified only MMF as independent predictor of Deltacreatinine and DeltaGFR (p = 0.002 and p < 0.001, respectively). No rejection episode was observed (three in controls). This study demonstrates the medium-term efficacy and safety of MMF plus low dose CNI in reducing nephrotoxicity in LT recipients.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Guidelines for the treatment of patients infected with hepatitis C virus of genotypes 2 and 3 (HCV-2 and HCV-3, respectively) recommend a 24-week course of Peg-interferon (Peg-IFN) alpha-2a combined with ribavirin, despite 50% of patients in registration trials attaining a sustained virologic response (SVR) following Peg-IFN alpha-2a monotherapy. The aim of this study was to delineate patient characteristics that might help to identify individuals likely to benefit from ribavirin discontinuation. One hundred and forty-four HCV-2- and HCV-3-infected patients initiated Peg-IFN alpha-2a (180 microg/week) and ribavirin (1000 or 1200 mg/day); those with viral clearance at week 4 were randomized to either Peg-IFN alpha-2a monotherapy (n = 59) or continuing combination therapy (n = 61) until week 12. Overall, all but one patient with a rapid virologic response (RVR) responded by the end of therapy and the overall SVR rates were lower after discontinuation of ribavirin (54%vs 82%; P < 0.001). In RVR patients who discontinued ribavirin, low baseline viraemia helped predict SVR (odds ratio 11.2, 95% CI 2.7-47.1). SVR rates were similar in patients receiving mono- or combination therapy with low (< or =300,000 IU/mL) and intermediate viraemia (86%vs 81% and 70%vs 71%, 86% refers to low viraemic patients receiving monotherapy and 81% to those receiving combination therapy. Similarly, 70% refers to patients with intermediate viraemic levels receiving monotherapy and 71% to those receiving combination therapy), but different in those with high (>700,000 IU/mL) viraemia (37%vs 88%; P = 0.004). Thus in HCV-2- and HCV-3-infected patients, withdrawal of ribavirin and continuation of Peg-IFN alpha-2a monotherapy may be appropriate to attain an SVR, providing viraemia is cleared early during therapy and associated with low baseline viral load. These results warrant future investigations, as discontinuing ribavirin could lead to considerable savings in cost and quality of life related to over-treatment.
Journal of Viral Hepatitis 09/2008; 16(1):28-35. · 3.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Thymosin alpha-1 (Talpha1) has been shown to be effective in chronic hepatitis B treatment. This study investigated the effect of Talpha1 and interferon-alpha (IFNalpha) on cytokine production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of 12 patients with eAg-negative chronic hepatitis B (HBV). We evaluated the effect of incubation with Talpha1, IFNalpha or both on the synthesis of T-helper 1 (Th1) cytokines [interleukin-2 (IL-2), IFNgamma] and Th2 cytokines (IL-4, IL-10) and of antiviral protein 2',5'-oligoadenylate synthetase (2',5'-OAS) in patients and in a group of 10 healthy controls. Concerning Th1 profile, controls showed lower IL-2 synthesis than HBV patients. In HBV setting, IFNalpha/Talpha1 combination was able to increase IL-2 production significantly, when compared with baseline condition. About the Th2-cytokines, controls showed statistically lower synthesis of IL-4 and higher production of IL-10, than HBV patients. In these latter, IFNalpha increased the synthesis of IL-10 compared with baseline. Interestingly, both Talpha1 alone and the IFNalpha/Talpha1 combination reversed this effect. Finally, compared with baseline, the synthesis of 2',5'-OAS was significantly higher in the presence of Talpha1 and IFNalpha alone, and in the presence of IFNalpha/Talpha1 association, while no differences were found between controls and HBV patients. In conclusion, in PBMCs from eAg-negative HBV patients, Talpha1 alone was able to increase the antiviral protein synthesis, while in association with IFNalpha, it stimulated the IL-2 synthesis and inhibited the IFN-induced IL-10 production. These results need further investigations, but reinforce the idea of an immunotherapeutic approach for chronic hepatitis B.
Journal of Viral Hepatitis 07/2008; 15(6):442-8. · 3.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report here two cases of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) 90 and 70 months, respectively, after successful treatment with interferon (IFN) and ribavirin for hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related cirrhosis. A 50-year-old Caucasian man and a 66-year-old Caucasian woman with HCV-related cirrhosis were treated with IFN and ribavirin and in both cases a sustained virological response (SVR) was obtained with persistent normalization of serum aminotransferases and continuous disappearance of serum HCV-RNA. Both patients were subsequently followed up within an HCC surveillance programme based on biochemical and ultrasound (US) evaluation every 6 months and the appearance of HCC was detected 90 and 70 months, respectively, after discontinuation of therapy. We introduce these two cases to call attention to the importance of not underestimating the risk of HCC development even many years after complete HCV eradication, especially in the presence of established cirrhosis and concomitance of other risk factors for HCC.
Liver international: official journal of the International Association for the Study of the Liver 04/2008; 28(3):407-11. · 3.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: HBV vaccine needs 3 injections over 6 months to induce immunity. Thus, the use of adjuvants capable of inducing earlier immune protection would be highly desirable. Most adjuvants may act by inducing cytokines, and among them, type I interferons (IFNs), deserve a special attention in view of the potent immunomostimulatory activity observed in mouse models and on dendritic cell functions. The aim of the present trial was to evaluate the effects of IFN-alpha administered as an adjuvant of HBV vaccine in healthy unvaccinated individuals. No significant enhancing effect on the antibody response was observed, in spite of an early and transient upregulation of costimulatory molecule expression on peripheral blood mononuclear cells, which may be suggestive of an IFN-mediated activation of antigen presenting cells. We conclude that, under the conditions used in this trial, natural IFN-alpha does not act as an adjuvant of the HBV vaccine in healthy unvaccinated individuals.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background and aim. In patients with chronic hepatitis C receiving Peg interferon/ribavirin (PEG-IFN/RBV) who do not achieve ≥ 2log-reduction in HCV-RNA at week 12 (null responders, NR) and in those with ≥ 2log-decrease but detectable at week 24 (partial responders, PR) the probability to achieve the sustained virological response (SVR) is almost null. The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of individualized schedule of progressively increased RBV doses in the setting of PEG-IFN/RBV treatment. Material and methods. PR or NR to PEG-IFN/RBV instead of discontinuing treatment were enrolled to receive increasing doses of RBV until a target theoretical concentration ([tRBV]) of ≥ 15 μmol/L (by pharmacokinetic formula based on glomerular filtration rate). HCV-RNA was assessed every 4 weeks and, if detectable, RBV dose was gradually increased until negativization. Twelve weeks later, patients with detectable HCV-RNA discontinued therapy while those with undetectable HCV-RNA continued for further 48 weeks. Results. Twenty genotype-1 patients (8 NR and 12 PR) were enrolled. After 12 weeks 9 (45%) were still HCV-RNA positive and were discontinued, while remaining 11 had undetectable HCV-RNA. One stopped treatment for side effects. Ten completed treatment. Five (all PR) achieved SVR. Side effects incidence was similar to that observed during PEG-IFN/RBV. Conclusions. In conclusion, RBV high doses, according to individualized schedule, increase SVR in PR on a similar extent to that of triple therapy but without increase of side effects. Such treatment should be considered in PR with no access or intolerant to protease inhibitors (PI).
Annals of hepatology: official journal of the Mexican Association of Hepatology 13(2):196-203. · 1.67 Impact Factor