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ABSTRACT: HCV genotypes 2- or 3-infected patients with a rapid virological response (RVR) to therapy with pegylated interferon and ribavirins who have a low viral load, noncirrhotic and nonobese may be considered for a shorter course of treatment. However, no studies have assessed host-viral factors associated with relapse in genotype 2 and 3 separately. Accordingly, we assessed whether 12 weeks of pegylated interferon and ribavirin was an optimized regimen for treatment of HCV genotype 2 and 3 with positive predictors of response. Power and sample size were a priori calculated and 96 consecutive chronic hepatitis C patients (53, genotype 2 and 43, genotype 3) without cirrhosis who were not obese and who achieved a RVR to therapy with peg-IFN-α-2a and ribavirin were enrolled. Fibrosis, steatosis, homeostatic model assessment-insulin resistance and HCV RNA were predefined variables to be evaluated in relapse. An intention-to-treat analysis was performed. SVR rates were 98% and 84% for genotype 2 and 3, respectively. Analysis of genotype 3 patients who had relapse showed a negative correlation with steatosis (P < 0.0001) and HCV RNA (P < 0.015). Multivariate analysis showed that steatosis was the independent predictor of relapse (OR, 0.988; 95% CI, 0.981-0.993; P < 0.001). Genotype 3 patients with steatosis had a relapse rate of 36.4% and 15.8% in those with high and low viral load, respectively, whereas there was no relapse in those without steatosis. In conclusion, a 12-week course of therapy is sufficient for patients without cirrhosis, not obese and infected with HCV genotype 2 achieve a RVR. This is not the case for genotype 3. Steatosis is the independent predictor of relapse. New therapeutic strategies are necessary for this subgroup of HCV genotype 3.
Journal of Viral Hepatitis 05/2012; 19(5):346-52. · 3.08 Impact Factor