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Keywords:

  • chronic hepatitis C;
  • hepatitis C virus-RNA;
  • high dose;
  • interferon α;
  • short course

To shorten the period of interferon (IFN) treatment for chronic hepatitis C, we investigated the clinical efficacy of a regimen using a higher dose and a shorter treatment period. Fifty chronic hepatitis C patients who were hepatitis C virus (HCV)-RNA positive and who were histologically diagnosed as having chronic hepatitis, took part in the study. Virus levels were measured before and 2 weeks after starting the treatment. We administered natural IFNα, 10 MU, i.m. daily for 2 consecutive weeks and then three times per week for the subsequent 14 weeks (total dose 560 MU). Patients who were HCV-RNA negative at the completion of the therapy and 6 months later, were evaluated as sustained responders (SR; 32%). Those who were not HCV-RNA negative at the two time points were evaluated as non-responders. Nucleotide and clone differences in the hypervariable region (HVR) and predictive factors for prognosis were also analysed. Low virus level and HCV-RNA genotype 2a/2b were the predictors for good prognosis, whereas the numbers of nucleotide differences and clone differences in HVR were not. Sustained responder patients became HCV-RNA negative 2 weeks after starting the treatment at a significantly higher rate, whereas no non-responder patients were HCV-RNA negative at that time. The SR rate (32%) was equivalent to those reported in previous 24 week treatment studies. This IFN therapy using a higher dose and a shorter period was useful.