The effect of treatment with alpha-interferon on hepatitis G/GBV-C viraemia. The CONSTRUCT Group.
Jarvis LM., Bell H., Simmonds P., Hawkins A., Hellum K., Harthug S., Maeland A., Ritland S., Myrvang B., von der Lippe B., Raknerud N., Skaug K.
BACKGROUND: Hepatitis G virus (HGV) or GBV-C is frequently detected in patients co-infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). This study investigated host and virologic factors influencing the response to HGV/GBV-C to alpha-interferon treatment. METHODS: HGV/GBV-C was detected and quantified by nested polymerase chain reaction. The influence of variables such as liver biopsy appearance, liver function abnormalities, and response of HCV to interferon treatment was monitored. RESULTS: Fourteen of the 25 HGV/GBV-C-infected patients treated with interferon (3-6 MIU three times a week for 6 months) became non-viraemic during treatment, although all relapsed after treatment withdrawal at 6 months, with no net change in virus load between 0 and 12 months. CONCLUSIONS: Predictive factors for clearance of HGV/GBV-C viraemia by interferon were pre-treatment severity of liver disease (median Knodell score of 4, compared with 7 for non-responders; P = 0.030) and alanine aminotransferase levels (median, 114, 182 for non-responders; P = 0.039). Clearance was associated with the treatment response of HCV. Nine of 13 who cleared HGV/GBV-C also cleared HCV, compared with 3 of 11 HGV/GBV-C non-responders; P = 0.05). The shared susceptibility of HGV/GBV-C and HCV to interferon treatment suggests a link between the mechanism of clearance of the two viruses.