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Indexed/Abstracted in: CAB, EMBASE, PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus, Emerging Sources Citation Index
Online ISSN 1827-1642
Asselah T., Boyer N., Ripault M. P., Martinot M., Marcellin P.
Service d’Hépathologie and INSERM U 773, University of Paris VII, Beaujon Hospital, Clichy, France
Chronic hepatitis C is a major cause of cirrhosis and primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma). Decompensated cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma secondary to hepatitis C is the first cause of liver transplantation in Europe and in the United States. The prognosis of chronic hepatitis C depends on the progression of fibrosis which determines the risk of developing cirrhosis and its complications. Knowledge of the natural history and the factors associated with the progression of fibrosis is essential for the patient’s management. The risk of the progression of fibrosis is difficult to predict in one particular patient. Liver biopsy remains the best test to evaluate the severity of fibrosis, determine its prognosis and discuss the therapeutic options. At present, in a patient with hepatitis C, combined therapy associating pegylated alpha interferon and ribavirin results in a sustained response in approximately 55% of cases. Based on existing results, the sustained virological response with this treatment option appears to be long lasting, to be associated with a histological benefit and is also probably associated with a reduction in the risk of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The management of hepatitis C virus infections must include better knowledge of the natural history of the disease and existing available antiviral treatments (pegylated interferon and ribavirin) as well as in depth knowledge of the aims of treatment, the results obtained, the predictive factors of response and side effects. With close follow-up, doses can be rapidly modified and erythropoietin more frequently administered; new molecules may also be developed in this context. This paper will discuss the natural history, the factors associated with the progression of fibrosis, the predictive factors of response to treatment, and existing and future treatments for hepatitis C.