Aim: Few studies have investigated the course of liver stiffness after treatment with protease inhibitors. We evaluated the impact of this therapy on liver fibrosis measured by transient elastography.
Methods: This multicenter observational, cohort, prospective study included 90 patients with hepatitis C genotype 1 treated with telaprevir or boceprevir who had advanced fibrosis evidenced by liver stiffness (≥9.5 kPa). Liver stiffness was measured at baseline and 24 weeks after treatment ended, and was compared with virological responses at week 12.
Results: Liver stiffness decreased in 89% of patients who achieved sustained virological response. The median intrapatient liver stiffness value at the end of follow-up decreased by 5.1 kPa (35%) from baseline compared with 0.1 kPa (0.5%) in those who did not achieve a sustained virological response (P<0.001). The liver stiffness level fell below 9.5 kPa in 58% of patients with sustained virological response, and 71% of those with sustained virological response and cirrhosis evidenced by liver stiffness at baseline achieved regression below 12.5 kPa by the end of follow-up. Sustained virological response was the only variable associated with improved liver stiffness in multivariate analysis (odds ratio: 17.3; 95% confidence interval: 4.4-67.6; P<0.001).
Conclusion: In patients with advanced fibrosis measured by transient elastography at the beginning of protease inhibitor-based therapy with sustained virological response, liver stiffness was significantly reduced 24 weeks after treatment. This suggests the possibility of liver cirrhosis evidenced by liver stiffness regression after sustained virological response in a significant proportion of patients.