Immunomodulatory effects of selective leucocytapheresis as a new adjunct to interferon-alpha2b plus ribavirin combination therapy: a prospective study in patients with high plasma HCV viraemia

J Viral Hepat. 2005 May;12(3):274-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2893.2005.00577.x.


Efficacy of interferon-alpha2b (IFN) + ribavirin (IFN/RBV) combination in patients with high plasma hepatitis C virus (HCV) is very poor. Dysregulated CD4+ /CD8+ T cells is involved in both impaired cell-mediated immunity and resistance to IFN. Adsorptive granulocytes and monocytes apheresis (GMA) can remove infected leucocytes which are extrahepatic HCV reservoirs and also has been associated with intriguing immunomodulation and increases in CD4+ T cells. Our aim was to see if GMA enhances the efficacy of IFN/RBV. Twenty-four patients, 13 IFN resistant and 11 IFN naive were enrolled. Seventeen were genotype 1b and 7 were 2a or 2b. Mean plasma HCV-RNA was 612.9 (100-850) kIU/mL and alanine aminotransferase, 108 (41-373) U/L. GMA was performed with Adacolumn at one session/day for five consecutive days and IFN/RBV was started within 24 h after the last GMA session. Daily 6 million units of IFN, six times/week for 2 weeks and then three times/week for 22 weeks were given with RBV (600-800 mg/day/patient). Patients were followed for 6 months. GMA was associated with a significant increase in lymphocyte counts, complement activation fragment C3a and falls in tissue necrosis factor-alpha, and IL-8 produced by peripheral blood leucocytes. At week 24, 20 of 24 patients (83%) were HCV negative and by end of follow-up (week 49), the remission was sustained in 14 of 24 patients (58%) including 100% of patients with 2a or 2b. In conclusion, enhanced efficacy of IFN/RBV following GMA might be attributed to a more efficient immune function and a renewed IFN signaling towards HCV.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / immunology
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / pathology*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha / administration & dosage*
  • Interleukin-8 / analysis
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Leukapheresis / methods*
  • Male
  • Probability
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Viral / analysis
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Ribavirin / administration & dosage*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Viral Load*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Interleukin-8
  • RNA, Viral
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Ribavirin