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A Journal on Internal Medicine

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Minerva Medica 1999 November-December;90(11-12):405-12


language: Italian

Therapy of chronic hepatitis C with alpha-interferon in 182 patients. An assessment of results, predictors and side effects

Marelli A., Nardecchia L., De Gennaro F., Reggiani A., Quinzani M., Bodini P.


Background. The aim of this study was to assess the results, predictors of response and side effects of therapy with a-interferon (IFN) in chronic C virus (HCV) infection. Methods. A group of 182 patients (150 chronic hepatitis and 32 cirrhosis) was treated with a-interferon‹recombinant IFN in 120 cases (66%), and lymphoblastoid IFN in 62 cases (34%)‹at a dosage of 3 MU three times weekly for 12 months. All our patients were prospectively followed for at least 6 months, and 133 patients for more than 2 years. Results. A short-term positive response was achieved in 65% of our patients, a sustained response in 34%, and a long-term response in 35%, the responses being similar both for hepatitis and cirrhosis. Liver histology, after 2 years, improved in 73% of long-term responders, whereas it improved only in 34% of relapsers. The predictors of response were: age, duration of disease, baseline levels of gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase (GGT) and serum ferritin. Both types of IFN proved to have the same efficacy. Side effects were observed in 52% of our patients, which were correlated with age and female sex. Conclusions. Interferon therapy yields good results, if administered for 12 months, in young patients with disease of short duration and low baseline levels of GGT and serum ferritin, even in the presence of cirrhosis, if at early-stage. Patients with normal alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels after 3 years may be considered fully recovered. The dosage employed was well tolerated.

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