Background & Aims: Pegylated interferon therapy has not been adequately evaluated in acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. This randomized trial assessed the efficacy, safety, and timing of pegylated interferon alfa-2b for treatment of acute hepatitis C. Methods: One hundred seventy-five patients acutely infected with HCV were screened. Patients whose infection did not spontaneously resolve by week 8 were randomized to once weekly peginterferon alfa-2b monotherapy (1.5 μg/kg per week) started at weeks 8, 12, or 20 for a duration of 12 weeks. The primary endpoint was undetectable HCV RNA 24 weeks after the end of treatment (sustained virologic response (SVR)). All patients were followed for 48 weeks after cessation of therapy. Results: One hundred twenty-nine subjects started treatment at week 8 (group A, n = 43), week 12 (group B, n = 43), or week 20 (group C, n = 43). By using an intent-to-treat analysis, the overall SVR rate was 87%. The SVR rates were 95%, 92%, and 76% with treatment onset at 8, 12, and 20 weeks, respectively. Overall, SVR rates were better for patients infected with genotypes 2, 3, and 4 than those infected with genotype 1. Earlier initiation of therapy improved SVR rates for patients infected with genotype 1 with high viral load. Peginterferon alfa-2b was well tolerated. Subjects with SVR maintained undetectable HCV RNA 48 weeks after therapy. Conclusions: Peginterferon alfa-2b monotherapy in acute hepatitis C induces high sustained virologic response rates, prevents chronic evolution, and is well tolerated. Initiation of treatment at week 8 or 12 results in higher sustained virologic rates than initiation at week 20.
Gastroenterology – Elsevier
Published: Mar 1, 2006
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