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Keywords:

  • chronic hepatitis C;
  • complete early virological response;
  • female;
  • genotype 1;
  • ribavirin

Aim:  Little is known about the appropriate use of peginterferon-α-2b (PEG IFN-α-2b) or ribavirin (RBV) in genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C (CH-C) patients with complete early virological response (cEVR). Female patients, especially the older, are known to experience inferior treatment outcomes.

Method:  A total of 150 CH-C patients with cEVR treated for 48 weeks (n = 104) or 52–64 weeks (n = 46) with PEG IFN-α-2b and RBV combination therapy were retrospectively analyzed to evaluate the benefits of extended treatment.

Results:  In the 48-week group, patients without a sustained virological response (SVR) were more often female (P = 0.004) and had received a significantly lower total RBV dose (P = 0.003) than those with SVR. The SVR rate in these female patients was similar to males with hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA negativity at treatment week 8 (P = 0.413); however, it was lower than that in males with HCV RNA negativity at treatment week 12 (P = 0.005). In the 52–64-week group, although the total RBV dose (mg/kg) after treatment week 48 was less in females than in males (P = 0.027), the SVR rate in females was equivalent to that in males (P = 0.604).

Conclusion:  Genotype 1 CH-C patients treated with PEG IFN-α-2b and RBV combination therapy without SVR were more often female and had received a lower total RBV dose than males. The smaller SVR rate in female patients with cEVR compared to males may be overcome by extending treatment even if the RBV dose is lowered due to anemia.