Early hepatitis C viral kinetics correlate with long-term outcome in patients receiving high dose induction followed by combination interferon and ribavirin therapy

J Hepatol. 2002 Jul;37(1):124-30. doi: 10.1016/s0168-8278(02)00114-9.


Background/aims: The majority of patients with genotype 1 do not respond to interferon (IFN) plus ribavirin. Limited data exist on the use of induction followed by combination therapy.

Methods: In this prospective study of 28 patients infected with genotype 1, randomization involved either daily or twice daily high dose IFN for 6 weeks, followed by standard therapy of 3 million units three times a week in combination with ribavirin for an additional 42 weeks. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA was quantitated before and frequently during treatment.

Results: The best correlate of response was delta (the infected cell loss rate). Sixteen patients continued on the study because they had at least a 2 log drop in their HCV RNA levels by week 12; all but one were PCR negative for HCV RNA at 48 weeks, and 14 of these 16 patients continued to be PCR negative at 72 weeks. Both African-Americans in our trial failed to respond to therapy, and differences were evident during the induction phase.

Conclusions: This randomized study of induction IFN therapy followed by combination IFN plus ribavirin yielded the highest rate of sustained response (50%) reported to date in chronically HCV-infected patients with genotype 1. The predictive value of the infected cell loss rate needs to be evaluated prospectively in larger studies, particularly in patients receiving pegylated IFN.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antiviral Agents / adverse effects
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepacivirus / growth & development*
  • Hepatitis C / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Interferons / administration & dosage*
  • Interferons / adverse effects
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • Ribavirin / administration & dosage*
  • Ribavirin / adverse effects
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antiviral Agents
  • RNA, Viral
  • Ribavirin
  • Interferons