Impact of high-dose peginterferon alfa-2a on virological response rates in patients with hepatitis C genotype 1: A randomized controlled trial

Stuart K Roberts, Martin Weltman, Darrell Crawford, Geoffrey McCaughan, William Sievert, Wendy Cheng, William Rawlinson, Paul Desmond, Phillipa Marks, Motoko Yoshihara, Bishoy Rizkalla, Jean DePamphilis, Gregory Dore

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This study tested the hypothesis that high-dose peginterferon alfa-2a (PEG-IFNalpha-2a) for the first 12 weeks would increase early and sustained virological response (SVR) rates in patients with chronic hepatitis C genotype 1. Eight hundred ninety-six patients were randomized 1:1 to 360 microg (n = 448) or 180 microg (n = 448) PEG-IFNalpha-2a weekly plus ribavirin at 1000-1200 mg/day for 12 weeks, followed by 36 weeks of 180 microg PEG-IFNalpha-2a weekly plus ribavirin at 1000-1200 mg/day with 871 patients evaluable for the intention-to-treat analysis. Virological responses were assessed by TaqMan (limit of detection 15 IU/mL) at week 4, 8, 12, 24, 48 (end of therapy), and 24 weeks following therapy (SVR). Undetectable hepatitis C virus RNA rates were significantly higher among patients receiving high-dose induction therapy at week 4 (36 versus 26 , P <0.005), week 8 (61 versus 50 , P <0.005), and week 12 (74 versus 62 , P <0.005). However, SVR was not significantly different between patients receiving high-dose (53 ) and standard (50 ) therapy. Significant baseline prognostic factors for SVR included age, sex, race, histological stage, and viral load. SVR was considerably higher among patients with no or minimal fibrosis (64 and 60 , respectively) compared to those with severe fibrosis/cirrhosis (28 and 24 , respectively). The frequency of serious adverse events and drug discontinuations were similar in both groups, whereas PEG-IFN dose modification, weight and appetite reduction, and grade IV neutropenia were significantly higher in the induction arm. CONCLUSION: Induction dosing with 360 microg/week PEG-IFNalpha-2a for 12 weeks was well tolerated and enhanced early virological response but not SVR rates. The high SVR rates in patients with minimal fibrosis highlight the benefit of early treatment in patients with hepatitis C virus genotype 1.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1045 - 1055
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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