Background: The clinical features of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-associated liver diseases, or the efficacy of interferon (IFN) therapy in children with Down syndrome (DS) remain to be elucidated. The purpose of the present paper was to survey the features of liver diseases in this subset of children and evaluate the efficacy of IFN treatment in those patients.
Methods: A questionnaire was sent to 41 members of the Japan Society of Pediatric Hepatology. Ten of them reported on 11 patients with DS who had concomitant chronic HCV infection, providing information on liver disease and the response to IFN treatment.
Results: Interferon therapy of 24 weeks duration using natural IFN-α was instituted in six of the 11 patients with DS, but none of the six patients cleared HCV-RNA from their serum. Among 12 age- and sex-matched control children who were treated with IFN using the same regimen against chronic HCV infection, half of them had a favorable response to IFN therapy with a sustained clearance of HCV-RNA from their serum. The major baseline features including alanine aminotransferase levels, HCV genotype and viral load were not apparently different between the six patients with DS and the 12 controls.
Conclusions: IFN therapy for HCV infection in patients with DS may be unfavorable as compared with non-DS children.