Prophylaxis for ribavirin-related anemia using eicosapentaenoic acid in chronic hepatitis C patients

Department of Pediatrics, Juntendo University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.
Pediatrics International (Impact Factor: 0.73). 02/2012; 54(4):528-31. DOI: 10.1111/j.1442-200X.2012.03603.x
Source: PubMed


Ribavirin-related anemia is a serious side-effect of the pegylated interferon and ribavirin therapy used for hepatitis C, and may be cause for a reduction in ribavirin dose or even cessation of treatment. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prophylactic effects of oral eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) supplementation on ribavirin-induced hemolytic anemia in pediatric and young adult patients.
Twelve chronic hepatitis C patients ranging in age from 3 to 21 years (mean, 13.9 ± 5.1 years) who received pegylated interferon α-2b and ribavirin combination therapy were randomized to either the control group (n = 6) or EPA group (n = 6). Blood samples were collected before, and at 4, 8, and 16 weeks after treatment to measure clinical laboratory parameters.
The reduction in hemoglobin levels of the EPA group was significantly ameliorated at 8 and 16 weeks when compared to the control group (P < 0.05). There was no significant difference in plasma ribavirin concentrations between the two groups during the treatment. However, one patient in the control group had a reduction in ribavirin dose.
EPA supplementation prevented ribavirin-induced hemolytic anemia during combination therapy with pegylated interferon α-2b and ribavirin in pediatric and young adult patients.

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    ABSTRACT: Pegylated interferon (IFN) α-2a or 2b in combination with ribavirin for children aged 3 years and older is the standard treatment for paediatric chronic hepatitis C. This treatment regimen was developed firstly in adults. In recent years, a number of direct-acting antiviral agents (DAAs) are under development for treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. These agents block viral replication inhibiting directly one of the several steps of HCV lifecycle. DAAs are classified into several categories based on their molecular target: HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitors, HCV NS5B polymerase inhibitors and HCV NS5A inhibitors. Other promising compounds are cyclophilin A inhibitors, mi-RNA122 and IFN-λ. Several new drugs associations will be developed in the near future starting from the actual standard of care. IFN-based and IFN-free regimens are being studied in adults. In this constantly evolving scenario new drug regimens targeted and suitable for children would be possible in the next future. Especially for children, it is crucial to identify the right combination of drugs with the highest potency, barrier to resistance and the best safety profile.
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