Background and aim: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is prevalent in hemodialysis (HD) patients. The current "best therapy" for HCV-positive hemodialysis patients is not known. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the long-term efficacy of pegylated interferon (PEG-IFNalpha-2a) in HCV-positive hemodialysis (HD) patients.
Materials and methods: Twenty-five HCV-RNA-positive hemodialysis patients were included into the study. Twelve patients were allocated to the PEG-IFN treatment group (group 1). Six refused the therapy, and seven were not candidates for kidney transplantation and were allocated to the control group (group 2). All patients underwent chronic hemodialysis treatment for end-stage renal disease during the study period. Group 1 patients received PEG-IFN alpha-2a at a dose of 135 mug weekly for 48 weeks. The patients were prospectively followed up for a period of 192 weeks. Biochemical and virological responses were evaluated at 144 weeks after the completion of therapy. Results. Two patients in group 1 and five patients in group 2 died during 144 weeks of follow-up. SVR was observed in six patients (50%) in group 1 and one patient (1/13) (7.7%) in group 2. ALT levels were normal in 8/10 (80%) in group 1 and in 5/7 (70%) in group 2.
Conclusion: In summary, our data showed that treatment of chronic HCV infection in dialysis patients with PEG-IFN alpha-2a at a dose of up to 135 mug weekly was well tolerated. Furthermore, SVR was achieved in half of patients at the end of 144 weeks of follow-up. Our results are encouraging for the administration of PEG-IFN alpha-2a in HCV-positive HD patients waiting for kidney transplantation.