Objectives To evaluate the efficacy, safety and tolerability of pegylated interferon monotherapy for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) in patients who are on dialysis. Methods From the University of Chicago Clinical Hepatology Database dated May 2001 to July 2005, 13 patients on dialysis with hepatitis C who have been treated with pegylated interferon were identified. Demographic and laboratory data were obtained from medical records. Patients received pegylated interferon alfa-2a at 135 µg subcutaneous (SQ) weekly (n = 8) or pegylated interferon alfa-2b at 1 µg/kg SQ weekly (n = 5). Side effects from the medication were noted. Results There were 7 men and 6 women, with a mean age of 54±11 years; 11 patients (85%) were African American and 11 patients (85%) were infected with HCV genotype 1. The median serum HCV RNA level was 3,273,000 copies/mL (range, 207,000 to >40,000,000), and the median serum alanine aminotransferase level was 29 IU/mL (range, 19-77). Four patients (30%) had bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis on liver biopsy. None of the 13 patients achieved sustained virologic response; 2 patients (15%) had an undetectable viral load at the end of therapy but relapsed within 6 months of follow-up. The most common side effects were fatigue (100%), anemia defined as 2 g/dL or greater drop in hemoglobin level (60%), and psychiatric symptoms (30%). Conclusions Pegylated interferon is ineffective for HCV infection in patients on dialysis. Furthermore, worsening anemia, which is usually prevalent at baseline in dialysis patients, is a common adverse event even in the absence of ribavirin use.
Keywords: Hepatitis C; dialysis; end-stage; pegylated interferon; renal disease; renal failure.