A randomized controlled trial of a 12‐month course of recombinant human interferon‐α in chronic delta (type D) hepatitis: A multicenter Italian study

Hepatology (Impact Factor: 11.06). 06/1991; 13(6):1052 - 1056. DOI: 10.1002/hep.1840130608


To determine whether long-term therapy with recombinant interferon-α can improve the course of chronic delta hepatitis, 61 Italian patients with this disease were randomly assigned to receive either interferon-α-2b three times a week (5 MU/m2 for 4 mo and then 3 MU/m2 for another 8 mo) or no treatment. At the end of the 12-mo study, all patients were followed-up for 12 additional months. Normalization or decrease of more than 50% from baseline of serum ALT levels occurred in 42% of treated patients the fourth month of therapy, 26% the twelfth month and 3% the twenty-fourth month vs. 7%, 7% and 0%, respectively, in the control group. However, relapses occurred in 7 of 8 (87.5%) responders 1 to 10 mo (mean = 3.5 mo) after cessation of therapy.
Liver biopsies were carried out at baseline and during the twelfth month of treatment. Histological improvement, mostly caused by decrease of portal inflammation, was observed in 57% of treated and 36% of untreated patients. Measures of antiviral activity (serum hepatitis delta virus RNA and intrahepatic hepatitis delta antigen) showed similar levels in treated and control patients. In treated patients the percentage of patients who were negative for HDV RNA never exceeded that of baseline.
Although interferon-α in the dosage given in this study had no antiviral effect on patients with chronic hepatitis D, it reduced hepatic inflammation as measured by ALT levels. Whether a longer duration or reinstitution of interferon-α therapy would achieve longterm control of ALT levels and prevent chronic liver damage is not known. (HEPATOLOGY 1991;13:1052–1056.)

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    ABSTRACT: We examined the efficacy of decreasing high doses (beginning at 18 MU/day) of interferon-alpha 2a vs. that of daily low doses (3 MU) in the treatment of chronic hepatitis delta virus infection. Patients treated with 18 MU had a somewhat higher frequency of normalization of serum ALT levels than patients treated with low doses (31% and 12%, respectively, on an intention-to-treat basis). A decrease in the percentage of hepatitis D virus RNA positivity was observed in both groups at the end of treatment. Thus, whereas in baseline samples 10 (62%) of the patients in each group were positive for hepatitis D virus RNA in serum on slot-blot hybridization, these numbers decreased to 5 (31%) and 4 (25%) patients in groups 1 and 2, respectively, at the end of therapy. However, hepatitis D virus RNA, detected by means of nested polymerase chain reaction, remained in all but two (one in each group) patients who completed the treatment. Finally, during posttreatment follow-up, hepatitis D virus RNA levels returned to baseline values, and only one patient remained negative for this marker. The beneficial effect of interferon-alpha was only transient. Only two patients (one from each treatment group) had persistently normal serum ALT levels after 18 mo of follow-up. Finally, the presence of serum hepatitis D virus RNA at the end of therapy, detected with nested polymerase chain reaction, might be a good marker for the prediction of viral replication relapse.
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    ABSTRACT: To assess whether therapy with Ribavirin may affect the course of chronic delta hepatitis, nine Italian patients with this disease received the drug orally at a dosage of 15 mg/kg daily for 16 weeks. At the end of the therapy period, all patients were followed for 12 additional months. Seven patients completed the trial. Two patients were withdrawn: one developed hemolytic anemia, and the other intractable itching. At the end of treatment HD viremia was reduced in one patient, had cleared in another, and was unchanged in the remaining five patients. None of the patients decreased their alanine transferase (ALT) levels by more than 50%. At the doses given in this study. Ribavirin did not show significant antiviral effects in chronic hepatitis D, and was not effective in reducing the biochemical markers of liver inflammation and necrosis.
    No preview · Article · Jul 1994 · Liver International
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