Effect of re-treatment for pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) plus ribavirin was not fully evaluated. We examined the effects of re-treatment with PEG-IFN plus ribavirin in patients with high viral loads of genotype 1 hepatitis C virus who failed to achieve a sustained virological response (SVR) with combination therapy.Methods:
We examined 38 patients who were re-treated with PEG-IFN α2a plus ribavirin for more than 60 weeks, among whom 14 were non-responders and 24 were relapsers after previous treatment with PEG-IFN α2b plus ribavirin. IL28B genotyping was done in 21 patients.Results:
The overall SVR rate was 34%. Analysis of baseline characteristics showed that the relapsers had a significantly higher SVR rate than the non-responders (50.0%, 12/24 vs. 7.1%, 1/14, respectively, P = 0.012) The SVR rates of re-treated patients who had turned hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA-negative at weeks 8, 12, 24, and 48 of the previous therapy were 67% (4/6), 67% (4/6), 29% (2/7), and 25% (1/4), respectively. Re-treatment achieved an SVR in five of 12 patients with IL28B major alleles and three of nine patients with IL28B minor alleles. During the re-treatment, patients with complete viral suppression at week-12 achieved a significantly higher SVR rate (P = 0.001).Conclusions:
Re-treatment with PEG-IFN α2a plus ribavirin therapy is effective in patients who relapse after a course of PEG-IFN α2b plus ribavirin therapy. Re-treatment is a particularly useful option for patients who achieve early viral clearance during previous therapy.