CLINICAL TRIAL
JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Pegylated interferon alfa-2a monotherapy for hemodialysis patients with acute hepatitis C.

BACKGROUND: Hemodialysis patients are at risk of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. However, little is known about the efficacy and safety of pegylated interferon (IFN) therapy for hemodialysis patients with acute hepatitis C.

METHODS: From 2005 through 2008, 35 hemodialysis patients with acute hepatitis C who did not have spontaneous clearance of HCV by 16 weeks were treated with pegylated IFN alfa-2a at a dosage of 135 microg weekly for 24 weeks. In contrast, 7 patients with clearance of HCV by 16 weeks were under observation only. Thirty-six hemodialysis patients from 2002-2005 who had acute hepatitis C but did not receive treatment served as historical controls. The primary efficacy and safety end points were sustained virologic response (undetectable HCV RNA levels at 24 weeks after therapy) by intention-to-treat analysis and treatment-related withdrawal.

RESULTS: The rate of sustained virologic response in the treatment group was significantly higher than the rate of spontaneous HCV clearance in the control group (88.6% vs 16.7%; P < .001). Two patients (5.7%) prematurely terminated treatment at 8 and 10 weeks because of constitutional symptoms, and both did not have sustained virologic response. All but one patient had rapid virologic response (undetectable HCV RNA levels at 4 weeks of therapy), and all patients who received >12 weeks of therapy had early and end-of-treatment virologic responses. All patients who had clearance of HCV by 16 weeks had undetectable HCV RNA levels until the end of follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: Pegylated IFN alfa-2a monotherapy is safe and efficacious for hemodialysis patients with acute hepatitis C. It is suggested that patients without spontaneous clearance of HCV by week 16 should receive therapy.

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