Plasma HCV‐RNA decline in the first 48 h identifies hepatitis C virus mono‐infected but not HCV/HIV‐coinfected patients with an undetectable HCV viral load at week 4 of peginterferon‐alfa‐2a/ribavirin therapy
During peginterferon-alfa-2a/ribavirin therapy, plasma hepatitis C virus (HCV)-RNA decreases with a rapid first phase and a slower second phase. We compared the viral load decrease and slope in the first 48 h in patients with a rapid viral response (RVR, i.e. HCV-RNA < 50 IU/mL at week 4) with patients not achieving an RVR. From 23 HCV-infected (14 mono-infected and nine HCV/HIV-coinfected) genotype 1 or 4 positive peginterferon-alfa-2a/ribavirin-treated patients, plasma HCV-RNA was determined at baseline, 48 h, weeks 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, 48 and 72. The HCV viral load decrease (Delta0-48), the slope (lambda(1)) and the efficiency factor (epsilon) were determined in the first 48 h after the start of therapy. Five (36%) HCV mono-infected patients and three (33%) HIV/HCV-coinfected patients achieved an RVR whereas six (43%) HCV mono-infected patients and five (56%) HIV/HCV-coinfected patients reached a sustained viral response (SVR). In contrast to HIV/HCV-coinfected patients, five HCV mono-infected patients with an RVR showed both a larger Delta0-48 and steeper lambda(1) (-1.77log(10) IU/mL +/- 0.66 and -2.04/day +/- 0.76) compared to nine non-RVR patients (-0.66log(10) IU/mL +/- 0.39; P = 0.019 and -0.76/day +/- 0.41; P = 0.019). When divided by SVR, a greater Delta0-48 and steeper lambda(1) were also seen in both HCV mono-infected and HIV/HCV-coinfected patients. Thus, in the first 48 h after the start of therapy, HCV mono-infected patients with an RVR have a larger viral load decrease, steeper viral slope and a higher efficiency factor as compared with non-RVR patients.
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