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Free Content Long-term Combination of Interferon Alfa-2b and Ribavirin for Hepatitis C Recurrence in Liver Transplant Patients

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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility, tolerability and efficacy of long-term combination therapy with interferon-alfa 2b (IFNα-2b) and ribavirin (Rb) for recurrent hepatitis C after liver transplantation. Fifteen patients with histologically confirmed hepatitis C after liver transplantation were treated. After a basic course of 12 months (IFNα-2b 3 MU/3 times a week; Rb 3 × 200 mg/day), patients achieving clearance of viremia underwent maintenance therapy with ribavirin (3 × 200 mg/day). Patients without virological response continuously received combination therapy. Levels of HCV RNA, aminotransferases and bilirubin were followed. Therapy led to a significant decline of transaminases and bilirubin in all patients (p < 0.05). Sixty-four per cent of patients had clearance of viremia after 12 months. Sustained virological response was 88%. In patients without virological response, continuation of combination therapy prevented another biochemical relapse of hepatitis. Treatment was accompanied by severe hematological side-effects, requiring medical support in a majority of patients. In two patients (13.5%), therapy finally had to be withdrawn because of major hematological disorders. These results indicate that long-term combination therapy with IFNα-2b and Rb is effective in the treatment of recurrent hepatitis C and in preventing further relapse of disease after liver transplantation, but side-effects may require cessation of therapy.
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Keywords: Hepatitis C; interferon; liver transplantation; ribavirin; viremia

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of General and Visceral Surgery, Friedrich-Schiller-University, 07743 Jena, Germany 2: Department of Pathology, University of Leipzig, Germany

Publication date: 01 November 2001

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