Aim: We tailored extended treatments using pegylated interferon (PEG IFN) and ribavirin (RBV) to viral responses after initiation of therapy and investigated the efficacy and safety of its therapy for chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients.
Methods: Eighty-two genotype 1b CHC patients were enrolled in the present study. All patients received PEG IFN-α-2b and weight-based RBV therapy. We defined a viral response in which serum HCV-RNA is undetectable at week 4 as rapid viral response (RVR), detectable at week 4 and undetectable by week 12 as early viral response (EVR), and detectable at week 12 and undetectable by week 24 as late viral response (LVR). We set the treatment duration depending on viral response; 48 weeks for RVR patients and 72 weeks for LVR. Furthermore, EVR patients received a short-term extension of treatment duration to 52–60 weeks. We prospectively investigated sustained viral response (SVR) rates of these groups.
Results: Overall SVR rate for the total patient group was 57.3%. SVR rates of the RVR, EVR and LVR patients were 100%, 80.5% and 40.0%, respectively. Nine patients could not complete this treatment protocol. Baseline platelet count and mutation in the interferon sensitivity-determining region of NS5A were significant independent predictors of SVR, and amino acid substitution of the core region was a significant independent predictor of non-viral response by multivariate logistic regression analyses.
Conclusion: The results indicate that short-treatment extension of PEG IFN plus RBV treatment protocols in EVR patients can improve overall SVR rates.