Early treatment of acute Hepatitis C with interferon alpha-2b for 24 weeks prevents chronic infection in almost all patients.
Pegylated interferons have replaced conventional interferon in the therapy of chronic Hepatitis C.
Dr Michael Manns and colleagues analyzed the efficacy of an early treatment of acute Hepatitis C with peginterferon alfa- 2b.
Between 2001 and 2004, 89 individuals with acute Hepatitis C infection were recruited at 53 different centers in Germany.
Patients received 1.5 g/kg peginterferon alfa-2b for 24 weeks.
The researchers initiated treatment after a median of 76 days after infection.
End-of-treatment response was defined as undetectable Hepatitis C at the end of therapy.
|Sustained virological response rates was 89%|
The research team defined sustained virological response as undetectable Hepatitis C RNA after 24 weeks of follow-up.
In the total study population, the team observed virological response in 82% at the end of treatment, and 71% at the end of follow-up.
Of 89 individuals, 73% were adherent to therapy, receiving 80% of the interferon dosage within 80% of the scheduled treatment duration.
The team found that end-of-treatment and sustained virological response rates in this subpopulation were 94% and 89%, respectively.
A maximum alanine aminotransferase level of more than 500 U/L prior to therapy was the only factor associated with successful treatment.
Dr Manns' team commented, “In acute Hepatitis C infection, early treatment with peginterferon 2b leads to high virological response rates in individuals who are adherent to treatment.”
“The high number of dropouts underlines the importance of thorough patient selection and close monitoring during therapy.”
“Thus, future studies should identify factors predicting spontaneous viral clearance to avoid unnecessary therapy.”