Aims: Optimization of the duration of peginterferon-α/ribavirin therapy in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 2 and high viral loads remains to be established. We sought to prospectively optimize the treatment duration based on their virological responses.
Methods: Serum HCV RNA levels of less than 50 IU/mL at weeks 2 and 4, and of 50 IU/mL or more at week 4, were defined as a super-rapid virological response (SRVR), rapid virological response (RVR) and late virological response (LVR), respectively. Treatment for 12, 24 or 48 weeks was assigned to the patients with an SRVR, RVR or LVR, respectively. However, patients with an LVR who expressed a desire to receive the standard therapy duration were given the 24-week therapy.
Results: The overall sustained virological response (SVR) rate was 78.1% (118/151). The SVR rate in the SRVR group was 93.8% (15/16), which was comparable to the 93.0% (66/71) SVR rate in the RVR group. In the LVR patients, the 48-week treatment slightly increased the SVR rate to 76.5% (13/17) compared with the 51.1% (24/47) SVR rate in LVR patients who underwent the standard 24-week treatment. The relapse rate in LVR patients was significantly decreased in patients treated for 48 weeks compared with patients treated for 24 weeks. Multivariate analysis identified the predictive factors for SVR as RVR, prior interferon therapy and total peginterferon-α-2b adherence in patients treated for 24 weeks.
Conclusion: Response-guided therapy may be effective and useful for optimization of the treatment duration.