Treatment of chronic hepatitis C

F. De Filippi, Massimo Colombo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chronic hepatitis C entails a life-long risk of developing cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma and eradication of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the only realistic approach for lowering the risk of disease progression. Treatment is indicated for patients with high transaminases and histologic signs of chronic hepatitis: 6-12 month therapy with 3-6MU interferon alfa thrice weekly combined with 1-1.2 grams ribavirin yielded up to 30% sustained virological responses (SVR). SVR raised up to 50% with pegylated interferons combined with ribavirin. Favourable predictors of response to the former treatment are genotype 2 or 3, less than 2 million copies of HCV, no or portal fibrosis at biopsy, age less than 40 yr and female gender. The same was true for the latter treatment, however, with body weight less than 82 kg replacing female gender. Six month treatment is enough for treating genotype 2 or 3 patients whereas 12-month therapy is indicated for the more resistant patients with genotype 1 or 4.98% cure of community-acquired acute hepatitis C was achieved with early treatment with daily doses of 5MU interferon, compared to a calculated 30% virus clearance occurring in untreated patients. Cost-effective stopping rules based upon early clearance of serum HCV-RNA, are under investigation. A cut-off equal or more than 2 log decrease in serum HCV-RNA at week 12, has 97% negative predictive value and 60% positive predictive value. Treatment could be optimized also by retreatment with combination therapy of relapsers and non-responders to monotherapy, with SVR rates of 50% and 25%, respectively. Difficult-to-treat patients include patients who have high genotype 1 and 4 viremia or coinfection with HIV or hepatitis B virus as well as patients who carry an organ graft. Extended treatment of virological non responders with pegylated interferons might slow down progression of hepatic fibrosis and prevent hepatocellular carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-137
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003


  • Chronic hepatitis C
  • HCV
  • Interferon
  • Peginterferon
  • Ribavirin
  • Therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Physiology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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