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Efficacy and tolerance of interferon-α in the treatment of chronic Hepatitis C in end-stage renal disease patients on hemodialysis


Maria Lucia Gomes Ferraz, Rua Machado Bittencourt 413, apto 81, 04044-001, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.
Fax: +55 11 5014 7468.


Abstract: Background: Patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) show a high prevalence of hepatitis C, with a negative impact on the survival on hemodialysis and after renal transplantation. We evaluated the efficacy and tolerance of interferon-α (IFN-α) in HCV-infected ESRD patients on dialysis.

Methods: Forty-six HCV-RNA-positive ESRD patients were studied. IFN-α regimen consisted of 3 million units three times a week for 12 months, and the patients were followed up for 6 months. End-of-treatment, and sustained biochemical and virological responses were evaluated and tolerance was assessed monthly.

Results: A sustained virological response (SVR) was observed in 10/46 patients (22%) and in 10/29 who completed the treatment (34%). Alanine aminotransferase was elevated in 63% of the patients at the beginning of the study and returned to normal levels within the first month in all patients with SVR. Treatment was discontinued because of side effects in 11/46 patients (24%) and six patients (13%) were lost to follow-up.

Conclusions: IFN-α monotherapy for hepatitis C in dialysis patients shows a high frequency of adverse effects. However, the SVR is high (34%) in patients who complete treatment, emphasizing the importance of careful selection and close follow-up in order to minimize and control possible side effects.