The main goals of treating cirrhotic patients with antiviral therapy are to attain sustained viral clearance (SVR), halt disease progression, and prevent reinfection of the liver graft. However, while the medical need is great, the use of interferon and ribavirin might expose these patients to severe treated-related side effects as a large proportion of them have pre-existing hematological cytopenias. We have reviewed potential benefits and risks associated with antiviral drugs in patients with liver cirrhosis, due to hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. In cases presenting with bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis, current regimens of antiviral therapy have attained a 44%-48% rate of SVR. In cirrhotic patients with portal hypertension, the SVR rate was 22% overall, 12.5% in patients with genotype 1, and 66.7% in those with genotypes 2 and 3 following therapy with low doses of either Peg-IFN alpha-2b and of ribavirin. In patients with decompensated cirrhosis, full dosages of Peg-IFN alpha-2b and of ribavirin produced a SVR rate of 35% overall, 16% in patients with genotype 1 and 4, and 59% in those with genotype 2 and 3. Use of hematological cytokines will either ensure full course of treatment to be accomplished with and prevent development of treatment-associated side effects. Major benefits after HCV eradication were partial recovery of liver metabolic activity, prevention of hepatitis C recurrence after transplantation, and removal of some patients from the waiting list for liver transplant. Several observations highlighted that therapy is inadvisable for individuals with poor hepatic reserve (Child-Pugh-Turcotte score ≥ 10). Although SVR rates are low in decompensated cirrhotics due to hepatitis C, these patients have the most to gain as successful antiviral therapy is potentially lifesaving.
- Hepatitis C virus
ASJC Scopus subject areas