SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Summary

Background

Few studies have evaluated interferon and ribavirin therapy in hepatitis C virus-infected patients with persistently normal alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels.

Aim

To determine the efficacy and safety of combination therapy in this population, and to evaluate the impact of treatment on health-related quality of life.

Methods

Forty-six hepatitis C virus-infected patients with persistently normal ALT levels and 92 matched subjects with elevated ALT levels were treated with interferon-α2b plus ribavirin for up to 48 weeks. Health-related quality of life was measured prior to therapy and 24 weeks after completion of treatment using the Hepatitis Quality of Life Questionnaire.

Results

Overall, 32.6% of patients with normal ALT levels and 28.3% of those with elevated ALT levels had undetectable hepatitis C virus RNA at 24 weeks after completion of treatment (P = 0.60). Three patients in the normal ALT group had mild transient ALT elevations during therapy. Compared with baseline, treatment was associated with significant improvements in nearly all domains of health-related quality of life in both groups of patients.

Conclusions

In hepatitis C virus-infected patients with persistently normal ALT levels, interferon-α and ribavirin therapy is efficacious, safe, and associated with significant improvements in health-related quality of life.