[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background and Aims: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is an important health problem worldwide. The aim of the study is to describe the baseline characteristics and possible epidemiological changes of the patients with chronic HCV infection included in a nationwide Greek study.Patients and Methods: two thousand eight hundred seventeen (2817) patients, followed-up at 20 hepatology centres throughout Greece between the years 1997 and 2006 were enrolled in the study.Results: Intravenous drug use (IDU) and history of blood transfusion prior to 1992 was reported in 30.7% and 22.6% of our patients, respectively. In 1865 (66.2%) patients with known genotypes, the distribution for genotype 1, 2, 3 and 4 was 45.1%, 7%, 34% and 13.9% respectively. Genotype 1 was more common in older people, in women (55.9% p<0.001) and patients with transfusion-related hepatitis (61.6% p<0.001). Genotype 3 was more common in younger patients, in men (43% p<0.001) and in IDUs (63.3% p<0.001). A significant reduction of transfusion-related hepatitis C incidence (p<0.001) in conjunction with the proportion of genotype 1 (p<0.001) was observed during the last three decades while an increase in IDU infected patients and genotype 3 was detected.Conclusions: Our study showed a significant change in HCV genotype distribution and source of HCV infection during the last three decades and under that scope, urgent actions are needed in order to control the spread of HCV infection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background - Aims: Chronic hepatitis C (CHC) can cause a series of neuropsychiatric symptoms, whereas the currently approved treatment for this disease often induces similar symptoms as well. The aim of the present study was to compare Greek CHC patients' health-related quality of life (HRQoL) with that of healthy controls, to identify any possible relationships between HRQoL and demographic and laboratory parameters and to study the fluctuation of HRQoL during therapy and follow-up.Patients and Methods: Ninty nine patients with CHC and 91 healthy controls were enrolled in the study. ALT, viral load, HCV genotype, fibrosis stage by liver biopsy and BMI, were determined at baseline. All patients completed the SF-36 quality of life questionnaire, which was self-administered, before treatment. They were treated with pegylated interferon alpha2-a or alpha-2b and ribavirin for 24 or 48 weeks and evaluated in the middle of therapy, at the end and six months after treatment cessation. SF-36 questionnaire was also completed in each evaluation.Results: Patients' HRQoL was found to be below that of healthy controls in all SF-36 scales before treatment. There was a significant negative association between history of drug abuse and general health and a positive association between age and mental health. Multivariate analysis revealed that history of drug abuse seemed to play a significant role in bodily pain and general health of patients, as well as age did in vitality and mental health. The course of patients' HRQoL showed that in the middle of treatment values in all SF-36 scales were below those of baseline and they returned to pretreatment levels at the end of therapy. However, at the end of the six month follow-up period, an improvement in almost all scales compared to baseline was noted.Conclusion: Our results showed that a) Greek CHC patients' HRQoL was worse than that of healthy individuals and fluctuated significantly during treatment b) A history of drug abuse and age can independently affect HRQoL c) During treatment values of HRQoL are worsened possibly due to interferon-a treatment and d) In the long-term treatment results in improvement of HRQoL.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatitis B virus infection (HBV) has been recognized as a major health problem worldwide. Greece belongs to the intermediate endemicity countries with a trend of decreasing prevalence of HBV infection during the last decade. However, the recent massive immigration to our country may have led to alterations of HBV epidemiology. In this study, we evaluated the epidemiological features of HBV infection in a sample of 3480 patients followed up during the years 1997-2006. Immigrants mainly from Albania represented the 18.6% of the total study population and 56.6% of children. The majority of the patients had no family history of HBV infection (67.3%) or of acute hepatitis (95.4%), no known source of infection (64.6%), with intrafamilial spread accounting for 16.9% of the HBV transmission in adults and 33.9% in children. HBeAg(-) hepatitis B was the predominant form of hepatitis (92.1%) among the Greek patients in contrast to the immigrants where 16.6% were HBeAg(+). Liver cirrhosis was diagnosed in 8.8% of the total population and 0.9% had hepatocellular carcinoma. A high proportion of children were HBeAg(+) (62%), 55% from immigrant families, 25.2% were infected in the perinatal period and had no evidence of disease complications. In conclusion our results showed (a) a changing pattern in the epidemiology of HBV infection in Greece due to the significant number of HBeAg(+) patients, especially among children and (b) a considerable number of patients although aware of their infection, present with advanced disease.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2008 · Journal of Viral Hepatitis
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although intravenous drug users (IVDUs) comprise the majority of patients with chronic hepatitis C, most of them are excluded from treatment because of concerns about adherence to treatment and side effects.
In this study we retrospectively evaluated safety, compliance to treatment and efficacy of treatment in IVDUs with HCV infection in 163 former IVDUs with chronic hepatitis C, who were not in methadone substitution and were attending our clinics the period 1997-2004. All subjects were HCVRNA (+), had ALT levels>x1.5 UNL and were treated for their HCV infection. Treatment consisted of three different regimens: IFN-alpha monotherapy (39.8%), IFN-alpha/ribavirin combination therapy (30.1%) and pegylated IFN-alpha/ribavirin combination therapy.
Eighty seven over 163 patients (53.3%) discontinued treatment early due to drug abuse relapse (62%), side effects (32.1%, 10% psychiatric) and 5,7% for other reasons. Eighty precent of those who discontinued treatment had pre-treatment drug abstinence<or=9 months. Seventy over 76 patients who completed therapy had an end-of-treatment virologic response (ETR, 92%). Fifty four over 76 patients showed sustained virologic response (SVR, 71.05%). ETR and SVR were significantly higher in both combination therapies compared to IFN-alpha monotherapy. The most prevalent HCV genotype was 3 (65%) and mild histological lesions were detected in the majority of subjects.
Our findings show that treatment for chronic hepatitis C was reasonably safe and sufficiently effective in our group of non methadone-substituted IVDUs, despite the fact that more than half of them discontinued treatment early and many relapsed to drug abuse. We suggest that the optimal duration of pretreatment abstinence from drug abuse should be >/= 9 months.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is an increasingly recognized condition, but its exact prevalence is unknown. In this prospective, multicenter study, we evaluated the prevalence of elevated alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, and gamma-glutamyl-transpeptidase levels as indirect markers of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in volunteer blood donors as well as their associations with epidemiological and anthropometrical characteristics.
Alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase and gamma-glutamyl-transpeptidase levels were determined in blood donors from four transfusion centers during the morning sessions of a 3-month period. Cases with positive hepatitis B surface antigen, anti-hepatitis C virus, anti-HIV or elevated liver enzymes and alcohol abuse were excluded.
Abnormal liver enzymes were found in 17.6% of 3063 participants (alanine aminotransferase: 14.5%, aspartate aminotransferase: 4.6%, gamma-glutamyl-transpeptidase: 4.7%). Individuals with abnormal compared with those with normal liver enzymes or alanine aminotransferase values were more frequently men and had higher weight, body mass index, waist, hip and neck circumference (P<0.001 for all comparisons). The prevalence of abnormal liver enzymes was also associated with the transfusion center ranging between 8.8 and 22.1% (P<0.001) and alcohol consumption (P=0.001). In multivariate analysis, presence of elevated enzymes was independently associated with male sex, higher weight or body mass index, higher waist circumference and transfusion center.
More than 15% of Greek blood donors exhibit elevated liver enzymes, most likely as a result of unrecognized nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is mainly associated with male sex, obesity and waist circumference, but it may range significantly among different population groups.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2007 · European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background-Aims: Sustained virological response (SVR) is defined as undetectable HCV-RNA at the end of 24 weeks of follow-up after treatment. This study aimed to determine the durability of this response beyond this time period and the long term management of patients with chronic hepatitis C. Methods: We retrospectively analyzed viral response to treatment with either standard or pegylated interferon in combination with ribavirin in 63 patients followed-up for 3-65 months after the completion of 6 months follow-up. HCV-RNA was determined by polymerase chain reaction at baseline, week 12, end of treatment and every 3 months thereafter. Results: End of treatment virologic response (ETVR) was achieved in 43/63 patients. Concerning sustained response 6 patients were lost during follow-up and 11/37-10/11 with genotype 1- relapsed at week 12. No more patient relapsed until the end of the 24-week follow-up. All patients with SVR (n=26) (8 with genotype 1, 1 with genotype 2, 15 with genotype 3 and 1 with genotype 4) retained the SVR during the long term follow-up except for one with genotype 3 who relapsed two years after cessation of treatment. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that patients with chronic hepatitis C receiving combination therapy usually relapse during the first 12 weeks of follow-up. Relapse is extremely rare there after. Thus, measurement of HCV-RNA at week 12 of follow-up can safely predict persistent virologic response to treatment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We studied viral dynamic parameters in 44 chronic hepatitis B/hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)(-) patients treated with pegylated interferon alfa-2b (PEG-IFN) 100 or 200 microg weekly or lamivudine 100 mg daily or the combination of PEG-IFN 100 or 200 microg with lamivudine. Patients receiving PEG-IFN monotherapy exhibited viral load oscillations between weekly injections, which were resolved by the addition of lamivudine. The median pharmacological delay was estimated at 4.1, 5.8, and 1.8 hours in PEG-IFN monotherapy, PEG-IFN 100/200 microg + lamivudine, and lamivudine monotherapy, respectively (P = .44). The median half-life of free virus was 12.7 hours (range, 2.4-69.2 hours). The mean antiviral effectiveness of PEG-IFN 100/200 microg monotherapy was lower than that of lamivudine (82.6% vs. 96.4%; P = .005). The mean effectiveness of PEG-IFN 100 microg + lamivudine and PEG-IFN 200 microg + lamivudine was 92.8% and 94.4%, respectively. The half-life of infected cells ranged from 2.7 to 75 days. The median half-life of infected cells in patients receiving the combination regimens of PEG-IFN and lamivudine was similar to that of lamivudine patients (5.0 days vs. 6.0 days, P = .77). In conclusion, the addition of pegylated interferon alfa-2b in lamivudine treatment was found to neither enhance the potency of blocking HBV production nor the decay rates of infected cells. Supplementary material for this article can be found on the HEPATOLOGY website (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/jpages/0270-9139/suppmat/index.html).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim was to demonstrate adherence to treatment has been suggested to enhance rates of sustained response in patients with hepatitis C. In this study, we evaluated the effect of drug dosage reduction or the duration of the expected therapy in patients treated with interferon (IFN)-alpha2b plus ribavirin. Virologic response rates were re-analysed according to compliance to therapy in (i) 301 naive and (ii) 142 nonresponders to previous IFN therapy treated with either IFN 5 MU TIW for 8 weeks followed by IFN 3 MU TIW for 40 weeks plus ribavirin or IFN 3 MU QD for 16 weeks followed by IFN 3 MU TIW for 24 weeks plus ribavirin. Patients were separated into those who adhered to > or =80% of their intended treatment schedule (dose of both drugs and duration) and those who did not. Compliance to treatment resulted in significantly higher response rates in both groups of patients: 43.93% compared with 6.90% of noncompliant naive patients and 30.77% compared with 10.53% of nonresponder patients. Compliance to treatment was found to have a similar effect when the results were analysed according to HCV genotype. Our findings suggest that compliance to treatment for > or =80% of the intended treatment schedule results in significantly higher sustained response rates in both naive and nonresponder patients. Consequently, every effort should be made to improve patient adherence to therapy.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2005 · Journal of Viral Hepatitis
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A randomized trial was conducted to assess the efficacy of interferon-alpha (IFN) daily in combination with ribavirin in 301 naïve patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC). Patients were randomized to receive ribavirin 1.2 g daily (QD) for 48 weeks with either IFN 5 MU (thrice weekly) TIW for 8 weeks followed by IFN 3 MU TIW for 40 weeks (IFN TIW, n = 154) or IFN 5 MU QD for 8 weeks followed by IFN 3 MU QD for 16 weeks followed by IFN 3 MU TIW for 24 weeks (IFN QD, n = 147). Treatment discontinuation rates, because of adverse events, were similar in the two arms (14.9% in IFN TIW and 14.3% in IFN QD, P = 0.87). The proportion of patients with sustained virological response (SVR) was 27.9% for patients treated TIW and 38.8% for those treated QD (P = 0.046). According to logistic regression analysis, patients in the IFN QD arm had 1.7 times higher probability of achieving SVR, than those receiving IFN TIW (P = 0.038). Low baseline viral load (P = 0.017) and genotype non-1 (P = 0.036) were associated with higher SVR rates. Combination of IFN/ribavirin for 48 weeks is more effective when IFN is administered daily for the first 24 weeks in naïve patients with CHC.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2003 · Journal of Viral Hepatitis
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A randomized trial was conducted to assess the efficacy of daily (QD) or thrice weekly (TIW) administration of interferon-alpha (IFN) in high doses in combination with ribavirin (1.0-1.2 g/day) in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) who were nonresponders to previous IFN monotherapy. Interferon was administered as 10 MU IFN (QD or TIW) for 4 weeks, followed by 5 MU IFN (QD or TIW) for 20 weeks, and then by 3 MU IFN (QD or TIW) for 24 weeks. Sustained virological response (SVR) was evaluated in 142 patients who received at least one dose of medication. One-fourth of the patients achieved SVR, 26% of those treated with IFN QD and 25% of those treated with IFN TIW (P = 0.85). For genotype 1 patients, SVR rates were 32.4 and 15.8% for IFN QD and IFN TIW, respectively, whereas for genotype non-1 patients the corresponding SVR rates were 20.6 and 36.4%, respectively (test of homogeneity: P = 0.031). This finding was further confirmed by multivariate logistic regression analysis where a statistically significant interaction (P = 0.012) was found between treatment and HCV genotype indicating that the IFN QD regimen was superior to IFN TIW among genotype 1 patients whereas, among genotype non-1 patients, the two treatments were similar (odds ratio of SVR in IFN QD vs IFN TIW: 3.33 among genotype 1 patients, 95% CI: 1.00-11.14). In conclusion, re-treatment of patients not responding to previous IFN monotherapy with a combination of high daily dose of IFN with ribavirin may be beneficial for genotype 1 infected patients.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2003 · Journal of Viral Hepatitis
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: HBV DNA quantitation is used extensively for the monitoring of treatment of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. The aim of this study was to develop a highly sensitive and reproducible real-time PCR (RTD-PCR) assay for the quantitation of HBV DNA using the LightCycler system. The performance of this assay was assessed by analyzing serial dilutions of HBV genomic DNA of known concentration and the lower limit of detection was found to be 1 DNA copy/reaction. By using serial dilutions of plasmid standard, RTD-PCR was determined to quantify HBV DNA in a 10-log10 dynamic range. RTD-PCR was found to be more sensitive than the commercially available tests such as the Quantiplex HBV DNA and the AMPLICOR HBV MONITOR assays. The median coefficient of variation of interexperimental variability was 3.2%. The HBV DNA values obtained with RTD-PCR were highly correlated with assays available commercially. These findings suggest that our RTD-PCR assay combines high sensitivity and reproducibility for HBV DNA quantitation in an incomparable high dynamic range of quantitation.
No preview · Article · Jun 2002 · Journal of Virological Methods