Ribavirin as a beneficial treatment option for hepatitis C virusassociated glomerular disease

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The management of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-induced glomerular disease remains unsatisfactory despite novel advances in antiviral and immunosuppressive therapy. Recent evidence highlighted the role of ribavirin, a drug provided with immunomodulatory properties, in the treatment of glomerular diseases associated with chronic HCV. We administered low-dose ribavirin (200 mg/day or 200 mg twice a week or 200 mg thrice weekly) in a prospective fashion to a group of patients with HCV-associated glomerular disease (n = 7). Ribavirin monotherapy was given in most (n = 6) patients and was accompanied by erythropoietin therapy in all. The primary endpoint was reduction of 24-h proteinuria after treatment ended; the secondary end-points were decrease in serum creatinine and amelioration of urinary abnormalities. We collected data on on-treatment adverse events (AEs), serious AEs, and laboratory abnormalities. Many patients (n = 6) had inactive HCV infection as they had shown HCV RNA clearance from serum after antiviral therapy with direct-acting antivirals. Some patients (n = 4) had membranoproliferative glomerulo- nephritis, the diagnosis being confirmed by kidney histology in three cases; others (n = 2) received diagnosis of diabetic glomerulosclerosis, confirmed in one by kidney biopsy. We observed consistent reduction of 24-h proteinuria in two individuals after ribavirin therapy; another patient reported disappearance of microscopic hematuria. We found severe AE (hemolytic anemia) in three patients which required discontinuation of ribavirin treatment in two patients, one required hospitalization. Other AEs were cutaneous rash (n = 1), dyspepsia (n = 1), and fatigue (n = 1). Low-dose ribavirin was able to give consistent reduction of 24-h proteinuria in two patients; tolerance to ribavirin was unsatisfactory. We need further studies aimed to expand our knowledge on ribavirin therapy of HCV-associated glomerular disease. The low incidence of the disease hampers the conduction of clinical trials on this aim.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-117
Number of pages9
JournalSaudi journal of kidney diseases and transplantation : an official publication of the Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation, Saudi Arabia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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