Published on: 2012-03-10
The clearance of hepatitis C virus infection by interferon therapy significantly reduces the incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma and death in elderly chronic hepatitis patients. However, there are few reports concerning the efficacy and safety of pegylated interferon-alpha2b plus ribavirin combination therapy in elderly patients.
The aims of the present study were to examine the effect and safety of pegylated interferon-alpha2b plus ribavirin combination therapy in 427 patients with chronic hepatitis C infection. We compared the rates of sustained virological response--defined as the absence of detectable hepatitis C virus in serum 24 weeks after the treatment ended--and the treatment discontinuation rate between 319 younger patients aged <65 years and 108 elderly patients aged [greater than or equal to]65 years.
We also examined the factors contributing to a sustained virological response.
Results: There was no significant difference in the sustained virological response rate between younger patients and elderly patients according to their hepatitis C virus genotype (41.5% (100/241) and 40.7% (35/86) for genotype 1; P = 0.899, 89.7% (70/78) and 86.4% (19/22) for genotype 2; P = 0.703, respectively). There was also no significant difference in the treatment discontinuation rate between the two age groups (10.3% (33/319) and 13.9% (15/108), respectively; P = 0.378).
There were no serious adverse events requiring hospitalization. The factors contributing significantly to a sustained virological response in elderly patients were gender, hepatitis C virus genotype, platelet count, and the presence of a rapid or early virological response (undetectable hepatitis C virus in serum at weeks 4 or 12 of treatment, respectively).
However, upon multivariate analysis, the presence of an early virological response was the only significant factor (odds ratio: 0.115, 95% confidence interval: 0.040-0.330, P <0.001).
Conclusions: The efficacy and safety of pegylated interferon-alpha2b plus ribavirin combination therapy in elderly patients are not always inferior to those in younger patients. Obtaining an early virological response may be essential to achieve a sustained virological response in elderly patients with chronic hepatitis C infection.
Author: Hiroki NishikawaEriko IguchiYorimitsu KoshikawaSoichiro AkoTadashi InuzukaHaruhiko TakedaJun NakajimaFumihiro MatsudaAzusa SakamotoSinichiro HenmiKeiichi HatamaruTetsuro IshikawaSumio SaitoRyuichi KitaToru KimuraYukio Osaki