Combination of interferon and ribavirin in chronic hepatitis C: re-treatment of nonresponders to interferon

Hepatology. 2001 Mar;33(3):704-7. doi: 10.1053/jhep.2001.22346.


Chronic infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) may result in cirrhosis, liver failure, and hepatocellular carcinoma. A minority of patients have a sustained response to antiviral therapy, and nonresponders remain at risk of developing progressive liver disease. We conducted a randomized, controlled trial of therapy with the combination of interferon (IFN) and ribavirin in patients with chronic hepatitis C who had not responded to an initial course of therapy with IFN alone. A total of 124 patients were randomized to receive the combination of IFN and ribavirin for either 24 or 48 weeks and followed for an additional 24 weeks after stopping therapy. Thirty-eight treated patients (30.6%) achieved a sustained virologic response (undetectable HCV RNA at the 24-week follow-up point). This was associated with significant improvement in necroinflammatory activity noted on liver biopsy. Interestingly, there was not a statistically significant difference in response rates based on the duration of treatment; HCV genotype was the strongest predictor of a sustained response. Sustained responses were noted even in patients with poor predictive factors, including those with advanced hepatic fibrosis or cirrhosis, high levels of HCV RNA in serum, and those infected with HCV genotype 1. The study included 24 patients with normal serum alanine transaminase (ALT) values before therapy who had similar responses to those with initially elevated transaminase values. This study suggests that the combination of IFN and ribavirin is a useful modality of therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis C who did not respond to IFN alone.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Resistance
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / blood
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / pathology
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / virology
  • Humans
  • Interferons / therapeutic use*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Viral / analysis
  • Recurrence
  • Retreatment
  • Ribavirin / therapeutic use*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • RNA, Viral
  • Ribavirin
  • Interferons
  • Alanine Transaminase