Pegylated Interferon Alpha-2b Plus Ribavirin for Naive Patients With HCV-related Cirrhosis

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BackgroundData on the efficacy of antiviral therapy in patients with HCV-related compensated cirrhosis are generally drawn from analyzing subgroups in larger trials.Aims(1) To analyze the safety and efficacy of combination therapy in naive patients with HCV-related cirrhosis; (2) to evaluate the factors influencing the sustained virologic response (SVR) in cirrhotic patients by comparison with a group of noncirrhotic patients; (3) to analyze the outcome of cirrhotic patients either acquiring SVR and nonresponders to the antiviral therapy during the posttreatment follow-up.MethodsWe consecutively enrolled 365 patients with biopsy-proven HCV-related chronic hepatitis meeting the inclusion criteria for pegylated interferon a-2b plus Ribavirin: 87 patients had compensated liver cirrhosis and 278 had histologic stages between 1 and 4 according to Ishak's classification.ResultsThe 2 groups were comparable for genotype, viral load, and alanine transferase at presentation. Cirrhotic patients were significantly older and had significantly higher body mass index, serum ferritin, and gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase. The rate of side effects was similar in the 2 groups, whereas the rate of SVR was significantly lower in cirrhotic (45.9%) than in noncirrhotic patients (65.8%). Logistic regression analysis showed that genotype 1 to 4 and high viral load were independent variables correlating with nonresponse in the sample as a whole. During follow-up, hepatocellular carcinoma developed in 5/38 (13.2%) cirrhotic patients not responding or relapsing after treatment. No cases of hepatocellular carcinoma were seen among cirrhotic or noncirrhotic patients with a SVR.ConclusionsCirrhotic patients with compensated disease have a reasonably good chance of virologic response and should be offered treatment, carefully monitoring any side-effects.

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