Treatment of acute hepatitis C with interferon α-2b: early initiation of treatment is the most effective predictive factor of sustained viral response

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Abstract

Aim

To evaluate the efficacy of early interferon α-2b in non-post-transfusion acute hepatitis C virus: a prospective study with historical comparison.

Patients

Group A: 28 patients prospectively treated for acute hepatitis C virus with daily regimen of interferon 5 million units for 2 months. Group B: historical series of 16 patients with untreated acute hepatitis C virus.

Results

There was no significant difference between the two groups with regard to gender, age, icterus, alanine aminotransferase, or genotypes. In group B, hepatitis spontaneously resolved in three of 16 (19%) patients (follow-up 1–7 years). In group A, 21 of 25 patients became sustained viral responders (75%; P = 0.0003 vs. group B). Factors include not predictive of sustained viral response: age, gender, sources of infection, presence of icterus, alanine aminotransferase peak, bilirubin peak, incubation period, presence of hepatitis C virus antibodies at presentation, or genotypes. The time from presentation to the start of therapy was, however, significantly shorter in sustained viral responders (43 ± 31 days) than in relapsers or non-responders (88 ± 52 days) (P = 0.016).

Conclusions

Early treatment of acute hepatitis C virus with interferon prevents chronicity. A short waiting time from presentation to treatment appears as the most relevant predictive factor for sustained response.

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