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Keywords:

  • fibrosis rate;
  • hepatitis C;
  • interferon;
  • response;
  • treatment

summary. The response to antiviral therapy and the rate of fibrosis progression in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are related to common factors, including age and gender. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between the rate of fibrosis progression and the sustained virologic response (SVR) to interferon (IFN)-based treatment. A total of 332 patients treated for chronic HCV infection were evaluated. Using multivariate logistic regression analysis, the impact of the rate of fibrosis progression (defined as the stage of liver fibrosis according to the Metavir system/duration of infection) on the rate of SVR (negative HCV RNA at least 6 months following the end of treatment), was determined. The median age of the patients was 44 (range 25–77) years, 64% were male, and 66% were infected with genotypes 1, 4, 5 or 6. The median rate of fibrosis progression was 0.083 (range 0–2) Metavir units/year; 158 patients (48%) had F2–F4 fibrosis. After a median of 48 (range 2–126) weeks of therapy (IFN, n=190; IFN and ribavirin, n=96; pegylated IFN, n=20; pegylated IFN and ribavirin, n=26), 93 patients (28%) achieved an SVR. In univariate analysis, the rate of SVR was higher in slow [< 0.083 Metavir units/year (n=162)] than rapid progressors [≥ 0.083 Metavir units/year (n=170)] (35%vs 22%, P=0.01). After controlling for age, gender, genotype, viral load, and treatment regimen and duration, the rate of fibrosis progression remained an independent predictor of SVR (slow vs rapid progressors, OR 2.74; 95% CI 1.27–5.92; P=0.01). Hence the rate of fibrosis progression is an independent predictor of SVR to IFN-based therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis C. This additional factor should be considered in economic models evaluating this condition.