Interferon-alpha 2b therapy in low-activity hepatitis C: a pilot study.
Nordøy I., Krarup HB., Bell H., Christensen PB., Elgjo K., von der Lippe B., De Muckadell OS., Maeland A., Ring-Larsen H., Samdal HH., Simmonds P., Skaug K., Tage-Jensen U., Schrumpf E.
BACKGROUND: Many patients with chronic hepatitis C have long periods of normal or near-normal liver enzyme levels, even though histologic alterations have been confirmed. The recommendation today is not to treat this patient group. METHODS: In a pilot study 23 hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA-positive patients with alanine aminotransferase (ALAT) levels less than 1.5 times upper normal limits for at least 6 months on more than three occasions and with histologic liver abnormalities compatible with chronic hepatitis C were treated with 3 MU of interferon-alpha 2b three times a week for 6 months. RESULTS: Nine patients (39%) became HCV RNA-negative in serum during treatment, but only two (8.7%) remained so after 6 months' follow-up. Significantly more patients with genotype other than type 1 became HCV RNA-negative than patients with genotype 1 during treatment (P = 0.005). CONCLUSIONS: Patients with low-activity chronic hepatitis C have a response to interferon-alpha treatment similar to that of patients with increased ALAT levels. Genotype seems to influence the rate of response.