SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is especially problematic in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) who are undergoing hemodialysis. Rates of HCV infection are higher among hemodialysis patients than in the general population, and several routes of transmission are thought to stem from the dialysis unit. Management of chronic hepatitis C is also more complicated in hemodialysis patients because of altered pharmacokinetics and a predisposition for drug-related toxicity, particularly ribavirin-induced anemia. Clinical trials of patients with chronic hepatitis C and healthy, functioning kidney grafts are rare because of the inherent dangers of graft rejection. As a result, most studies in patients with ESRD have focused on patients waiting for a kidney transplant. Additionally, because ribavirin is contraindicated in this patient population, many studies have examined monotherapy treatments. According to meta-analyses, conventional interferon alfa treatment yields a sustained virological response (SVR) rate of 37%, whereas studies of pegylated interferon alfa monotherapy have yielded SVR rates between 13% and 75%. Several small studies have also used the monitoring of ribavirin plasma concentrations or hemoglobin levels to facilitate the use of combination therapy. In light of the results from these clinical trials, we herein review treatment guidelines and recommend strategies to help optimize the treatment of patients with ESRD. Conclusion: There remains a lack of clarity surrounding the most effective treatment options for patients with chronic hepatitis C and ESRD. Treatment can be effective with many patients attaining SVR; however, unfavorable tolerability with interferon alfa–based therapy remains a concern and thus close supportive care should be aggressively pursued to help maintain adherence. (HEPATOLOGY 2008;48:1690–1699.)