The aim of the study was to characterize the interferon sensitivity determining region (ISDR) mutation pattern and its changes at 4 weeks of treatment in a population of patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1b receiving standard or PEG-IFN plus ribavirin (RBV), to find possible early correlates of therapy outcome. Forty-five patients with chronic hepatitis due to HCV 1b were treated by PEG-IFN-α2b (n=23) or IFN-α2b (n=22) plus RBV 1000-1200 mg/day. They were classified 24 weeks after stopping therapy as sustained responders (SR), relapsers (REL) or non-responders (NR). Sixteen patients were SR, 12 REL and 17 NR. ISDR mutations were evaluated by direct sequencing at baseline in all and after 4 weeks in patients with detectable viraemia (n=30). The frequency of the three ISDR types was 26.7% wild-type, 64.4% intermediate-type and 8.9% mutant-type, without significant difference in their frequency in SR, REL and NR, independent of IFN formulation. Average numbers of mutations in SR, REL and NR were 1.88 ±0.54, 1.33 +0.33 and 0.94 ±+0.25, respectively, P>0.05. The baseline number of ISDR mutations was not related to the extent of viral load decline in the first month of therapy. Sequence analysis of ISDR region performed 4 weeks after starting therapy revealed qualitative or quantitative changes of ISDR sequence in only seven patients, without correlation with response. Thus, in our patients the baseline pattern of ISDR was unrelated to treatment outcome. Selection towards a dominant IFN-resistant strain did not occur under standard or PEG-IFN plus RBV.
|Number of pages||6|
|Publication status||Published - Apr 2003|
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