Background: The efficacy of a maintenance therapy in non-responder patients with chronic hepatitis C has been essentially evaluated by histological semiquantitative scores.
Aim: The aim was to evaluate the efficiency of 2 years of treatment with peginterferon alpha-2a vs alpha-tocopherol in these patients by histology, morphometry and blood markers of fibrosis.
Method: Hundred and five HCV patients with a Metavir fibrosis score > or = 2 were randomized to receive peginterferon alpha-2a 180 microg/week (PEG) (n=55) or alpha-tocopherol (TOCO) 1000 mg/day (n=50) for 96 weeks. The primary endpoint was improvement or stabilization of the Metavir fibrosis score by biopsy performed at week 96. Secondary endpoints included a quantitative assessment of fibrosis by morphometry and changes in blood markers of fibrosis.
Results: There was no difference at baseline between PEG and TOCO according to the metavir (83.3 vs 86.8%, P=0.751) stage. The median fibrosis rate, measured with morphometry was 2.72 and 2.86% at day 0, and 3.66 and 2.82% at week 96, in the PEG and TOCO groups (P=0.90) respectively. However, the percentage of patients with metavir activity grade improvement was significantly higher in the PEG group vs the TOCO group (52.8 vs 23.7%, P=0.016). Non-invasive markers analysis did not show any significant change in both groups.
Conclusion: Long-term therapy with peginterferon alpha-2a did not reduce liver fibrosis degree assessed by morphometry and blood tests as compared with alpha-tocopherol. Blood tests could be useful to assess liver fibrosis changes in clinical trials.