Aim: Pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) combined with ribavirin is recommended for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in patients without renal failure. The optimal treatment of hepatitis C in dialysis patients remains to be established. A high incidence of adverse effects has been observed with conventional interferon and PEG-IFN alpha-2b in dialysis patients.
Methods: We conducted a prospective study to investigate the tolerability and efficacy of PEG-IFN alpha-2a (135 µg weekly for 48 weeks) in six dialysis patients with chronic HCV infection.
Results: Two patients completed 48 weeks of treatment. Treatment was stopped in three patients (beyond 24 weeks) when they developed unrelated complications, and stopped in one patient due to failure of viral clearance. None required treatment discontinuation due to adverse effects, and PEG-IFN alpha-2a was subjectively well tolerated. Marrow suppression with mild anaemia, leucopenia, or thrombocytopenia remained common. Two patients (infected with genotypes 3a and 1b, respectively) had sustained virological response.
Conclusions: Results from this pilot study showed that PEG-IFN alpha-2a appeared relatively well tolerated in dialysis patients with chronic HCV infection, and about one-third of patients could achieve sustained virological response.