Background and Aims: In chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection with genotype 3, therapy with pegylated interferon (peg-IFN) alfa-2b in a dose of 1.5 μg/kg/week and ribavirin (800–1000 mg/day) is recommended for 24 weeks. Reduced doses of peg-IFN may increase compliance and decrease cost and adverse events. This study aimed to assess the safety and efficacy of two different regimens of peg-IFN alfa-2b, in combination with ribavirin, in genotype 3 patients.
Methods: A total of 103 liver biopsy–proven chronic HCV patients with genotype 3, having alanine aminotransferase levels >1.2 × ULN and positive HCV-RNA were randomized into two groups: group I (n = 76; age, 43.1 ± 11.4 years; male/female, 67/9) received peg-IFN 1.0 μg/kg/week + ribavirin 10.6 mg/kg/day, while group II (n = 27; age, 37.3 ± 11.6 years; male/female, 21/6) received peg-IFN 1.5 μg/kg/week + ribavirin 10.6 mg/kg/day. Patients in both groups were treated for 24 weeks. End of treatment viral response (ETVR) and sustained viral response (SVR) after a 6-month follow-up period were assessed.
Results: In both groups I and II, one patient was lost to follow-up, while one patient in group II withdrew due to side-effects. ETVR was seen in 72/76 (94.7%) of patients in the low dose group and 24/27 (88.9%) of patients in the high dose group (P = 0.375). SVR was seen in 60/76 (78.9%) of patients in the low dose group and 25/27 (92.6%) of patients in the high dose group (P = 0.145). Age (Pearson correlation coefficient = 0.263; P = 0.008) and fibrosis (correlation coefficient, 0.263; P = 0.008) showed a significant correlation with the SVR.
Conclusion: In patients with genotype 3, peg-IFN at 1.0 μg/kg/week with ribavirin is as effective as peg-IFN at 1.5 μg/kg/week with ribavirin.