Medicinski pregled 2007 Volume 60, Issue 7-8, Pages: 322-326
doi:10.2298/MPNS0708322S
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The role of interferon in the treatment of acute hepatitis C

Simonović-Babić Jasmina, Delić Dragan, Švirtlih Neda

Introduction. Progression from acute to chronic HCV infection occurs in 50% to 84% of cases. Even the latest approach - combination therapy with pegilated interferon alfa 2-a or 2b and ribavirin - eliminates the virus in only 54% to 56% of cases with chronic infection. The aim of this study is to determine whether treatment during the acute phase prevents the development of chronic infection. Material and methods. Between 2001 and 2004, 27 patients with the diagnosis of acute hepatitis C were treated at the hepatology Department of Institute of Infectious and Tropical Diseases. Among them, 19 were treated with recombinant interferon alfa 2-a. Acute hepatitis C was defined by clinical and laboratory test results and by exclusion of other causes of acute liver disease. Results. The mean age of our patients was 32.7 years, whereas the mean incubation time was 61.7 days. The mean serum amino- transferase levels were 1119 U/l and the mean total bilirubin levels were 106 mmol/l. At the end of therapy, 81.8% of patients had undetectable levels of HCV RNA, but 94.7% of patients had normal serum alanine aminotransferase levels. At the end of follow up, 84.6% of patients had normal alanine aminotransferase levels and 83.3% of patients had undetectable levels of HCV RNA. One patient had undetectable antibody to HCV at the end of follow-up. Conclusion. The results reported here demonstrate that in the acute phase of HCV infection, interferon treatment is associated with a high rate of virological and biochemical response. We concluded that early treatment of acute hepatitis C may prevent chronic hepatitis C. .

Keywords: hepatitis c + diagnosis + therapy, interferons, antiviral agents

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