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ABSTRACT: Ribavirin (RBV) exposure seems to be critical to maximize treatment response in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.
HIV/HCV-coinfected individuals naive to interferon were prospectively randomized to receive peginterferon-α-2a (180 μg/d) plus either RBV standard dosing (1000 or 1200 mg/d if <75 or ≥ 75 kg, respectively) or RBV induction (2000 mg/d) along with subcutaneous erythropoietin β (450 IU/kg/wk), both during the first 4 weeks, followed by standard RBV dosing until completion of therapy. Early stopping rules at weeks 12 and 24 were applied in patients with suboptimal virological response.
A total of 357 patients received ≥ 1 dose of the study medication. No differences in main baseline characteristics were found when comparing treatment arms. Sustained virological response (SVR) was attained by 160 (45%) patients, with no significant differences between RBV induction and standard treatment arms (SVR in 72 of 169 patients [43%] vs 88 of 188 [47%], respectively). At week 4, undetectable HCV RNA (29% vs 25%) and mean RBV trough concentration (2.48 vs 2.14 μg/mL) were comparable in both arms, whereas mean hemoglobin decay was less pronounced in the RBV induction plus erythropoietin arm than in the RBV standard dosing arm (-1.7 vs -2.3 mg/dL; P < .005). Treatment discontinuation occurred in 91 (25%) patients owing to nonresponse and in 29 (8%) owing to adverse events. HCV relapse occurred in 34 patients (10%). Univariate and multivariate analyses identified HCV genotype 2 or 3 (odds ratio [OR], 10.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.08-50.2; P = .004), IL28B CC variants (OR, 2.92; 95% CI, 1.33-6.41; P = .007), nonadvanced liver fibrosis (OR, 2.27; 95% CI, 1.06-5.01; P = .03), and rapid virological response (OR, 40.3; 95% CI, 5.1-314.1; P < .001) as predictors of SVR.
A 4-week course of induction therapy with high RBV dosing along with erythropoietin does not improve SVR rates in HIV/HCV-coinfected patients. Preemptive erythropoietin might blunt the benefit of RBV overdosing by enhancing erythrocyte uptake of plasma RBV.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases 07/2012; 206(6):961-8. · 5.85 Impact Factor