Combination treatment of interferon alpha-2b and ribavirin in comparison to interferon monotherapy in treatment of chronic hepatitis C genotype 4 patients.
el-Zayadi A., Selim O., Haddad S., Simmonds P., Hamdy H., Badran HM., Shawky S.
BACKGROUND AND AIM: Treatment of chronic hepatitis C patients, infected with genotype 4 with interferon-alpha yielded a limited response. Our aim was to compare the efficacy of interferon-alpha alone and in combination with ribavirin in chronic hepatitis C patients infected with genotype 4. PATIENTS: Fifty-two chronic hepatitis C patients (all males) infected with genotype 4, who had not received interferon, were randomized into 2 equal comparable groups. METHODS: Group I received interferon alpha-2b "Schering Plough" 3 MU, tiw combined with ribavirin (1000 mg/day). Group II received interferon alpha-2b alone in the same dose. Both groups were evaluated monthly, at the end of 24 weeks of treatment and 24 weeks later. Two patients were dropped from group I and one patient from group II. RESULTS: Biochemical response: at the end of treatment, a return to normal of ALT was obtained in 16/24 (66.7%) patients on combination therapy vs 8/25 (32%) patients on interferon alone (p = 0.0152). At the end of follow-up, a sustained response was achieved in 10/24 (41.7%) patients on combination therapy vs 4/25 (16%) patients on interferon (p = 0.0468). Virologic response: at the end of treatment, the rates of virological response were higher in the patients on combination therapy 9/24 (37.5%) than in those on interferon 4/25 (16%) (p = 0.0380). At the end of follow-up, loss of serum HCV RNA was reported in 5/24 (20.8%) patients on combination therapy vs 2/25 (8%) patients on interferon (p = 0.1916). Histologic response: mild histologic improvement was shown by a decrease in the inflammatory score, which was highest in patients in the combination group. CONCLUSIONS: In chronic hepatitis C patients infected with genotype 4, combination therapy with interferon-alpha and ribavirin was more effective than treatment with interferon monotherapy. At the end of the follow-up, about 50% of patients in both groups were still viraemic though their ALT remained normal.