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      Antiviral treatment in patients with hepatitis C virus-related cirrhosis awaiting liver transplantation

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          Abstract

          End stage liver disease due to hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the most common indication for liver transplantation (LT) worldwide. Regretfully, infection of the graft by HCV occurs almost universally after LT, causing chronic hepatitis and early progression to cirrhosis in a significant proportion of recipients. Moreover, graft and patient survival are significantly worse in patients undergoing LT for HCV-related cirrhosis than in those transplanted for other indications. Therefore, many LT centers consider antiviral treatment with interferon and ribavirin the mainstay of managing recurrent HCV disease in LT recipients. The optimal time to start treatment is unclear. In most instances, treatment is initiated when histological evidence of disease recurrence, either at protocol or on-demand liver biopsies, is observed after LT. However, antiviral treatment initiated before LT is a potential option for some patients for two reasons: first, clearing or suppressing HCV before LT may reduce or eliminate the risk of recurrent hepatitis C in the transplanted liver and thereby improve survival; second, clearing HCV in cirrhotic patient may halt disease progression and avoid the need for transplantation. In this article, the results obtained by pre-transplant antiviral regimens administered to HCV-positive cirrhotic patients awaiting LT are discussed.

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          Most cited references 16

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          Peginterferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin compared with interferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin for initial treatment of chronic hepatitis C: a randomised trial.

          A sustained virological response (SVR) rate of 41% has been achieved with interferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin therapy of chronic hepatitis C. In this randomised trial, peginterferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin was compared with interferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin. 1530 patients with chronic hepatitis C were assigned interferon alfa-2b (3 MU subcutaneously three times per week) plus ribavirin 1000-1200 mg/day orally, peginterferon alfa-2b 1.5 microg/kg each week plus 800 mg/day ribavirin, or peginterferon alfa-2b 1.5 microg/kg per week for 4 weeks then 0.5 microg/kg per week plus ribavirin 1000-1200 mg/day for 48 weeks. The primary endpoint was the SVR rate (undetectable hepatitis C virus [HCV] RNA in serum at 24-week follow-up). Analyses were based on patients who received at least one dose of study medication. The SVR rate was significantly higher (p=0.01 for both comparisons) in the higher-dose peginterferon group (274/511 [54%]) than in the lower-dose peginterferon (244/514 [47%]) or interferon (235/505 [47%]) groups. Among patients with HCV genotype 1 infection, the corresponding SVR rates were 42% (145/348), 34% (118/349), and 33% (114/343). The rate for patients with genotype 2 and 3 infections was about 80% for all treatment groups. Secondary analyses identified bodyweight as an important predictor of SVR, prompting comparison of the interferon regimens after adjusting ribavirin for bodyweight (mg/kg). Side-effect profiles were similar between the treatment groups. In patients with chronic hepatitis C, the most effective therapy is the combination of peginterferon alfa-2b 1.5 microg/kg per week plus ribavirin. The benefit is mostly achieved in patients with HCV genotype 1 infections.
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            Peginterferon-alpha2a and ribavirin combination therapy in chronic hepatitis C: a randomized study of treatment duration and ribavirin dose.

            Treatment with pegylated interferon (peginterferon) and ribavirin for 48 weeks is more effective than conventional interferon and ribavirin in patients with chronic hepatitis C. To assess the efficacy and safety of 24 or 48 weeks of treatment with peginterferon-alpha2a plus a low or standard dose of ribavirin. Randomized, double-blind trial. 99 international centers. 1311 patients with chronic hepatitis C. Peginterferon-alpha2a, 180 microg/wk, for 24 or 48 weeks plus a low-dose (800 mg/d) or standard weight-based dose (1000 or 1200 mg/d) of ribavirin. Sustained virologic response: undetectable HCV RNA concentration at the end of treatment and during 12 to 24 weeks of follow-up. Overall and in patients infected with HCV genotype 1, 48 weeks of treatment was statistically superior to 24 weeks and standard-dose ribavirin was statistically superior to low-dose ribavirin. In patients with HCV genotype 1, absolute differences in sustained virologic response rates between 48 and 24 weeks of treatment were 11.2% (95% CI, 3.6% to 18.9%) and 11.9% (CI, 4.7% to 18.9%), respectively, between standard- and low-dose ribavirin. Sustained virologic response rates for peginterferon-alpha2a and standard-dose ribavirin for 48 weeks were 63% (CI, 59% to 68%) overall and 52% (CI, 46% to 58%) in patients with HCV genotype 1. In patients with HCV genotypes 2 or 3, the sustained virologic response rates in the 4 treatment groups were not statistically significantly different. Treatment with peginterferon-alpha2a and ribavirin may be individualized by genotype. Patients with HCV genotype 1 require treatment for 48 weeks and a standard dose of ribavirin; those with HCV genotypes 2 or 3 seem to be adequately treated with a low dose of ribavirin for 24 weeks.
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              HCV-related fibrosis progression following liver transplantation: increase in recent years.

              The natural history and predictors of HCV-related disease severity post-transplantation are uncertain. The aims of this study were to define the natural history of post-transplantation HCV infection by assessing the rate of fibrosis progression, to determine if the post-transplantation natural history differs from that observed pre-transplantation, and to identify predictors of post-transplantation disease progression. Post-transplantation biopsies (mean: 3+/-1.6/patient) from 284 patients were scored according to histologic stage, using the method of Desmet et al. Change in fibrosis score (fibrosis progression/year) post-transplantation was used as the primary outcome. Predictors analyzed included viral factors (genotype and viral load at transplantation), patient demographics, year of transplantation, country of transplantation, pre-transplantation fibrosis progression, immunosuppression and laboratory data. There was a linear association between change in fibrosis score and time from transplantation, with a median rate of fibrosis progression per year of 0.3 (0.004-2.19/year). Using parametric time-to-event analysis, the expected median duration to cirrhosis was 10 years. The rate of post-transplantation fibrosis progression was significantly higher than pre-transplantation (0.2/year (0.09-0.8) p<0.0001), and higher in Spanish than US centers (0.48 (0.01-2.19) vs 0.28 (0.004-2.08); p=0.09) despite similar progression rates prior to transplantation. Variables independently associated with post-transplantation progression included year of transplantation (p=0.0001), race (p=0.02), number of methyl-prednisolone boluses (p=0.03), and HCV RNA levels at transplantation (p=0.01). HCV-related disease progression is accelerated in immunocompromised compared to immunocompetent patients, with a progressive increase in patients who have recently undergone liver transplantation. Changes in patient management post-transplantation over time and between transplant centers may account for the increase in fibrosis progression observed in recent years.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Ther Clin Risk Manag
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Dove Medical Press
                1176-6336
                1178-203X
                June 2008
                June 2008
                : 4
                : 3
                : 599-603
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Medical Liver Transplant Unit, DPMSC, Internal Medicine, University of Udine Italy
                [2 ]Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine (DiMeCS), University of Eastern Piedmont Amedeo Avogadro Novara, Italy
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Pierlugi Toniutto Medical Liver Transplant Unit, Internal Medicine, University of Udine, P. zale S.M. della Misericordia 1, 33100 Udine, Italy Tel +39 0432 559801 Fax +39 0432 42097 Email pierluigi.toniutto@ 123456uniud.it
                Article
                2500252
                18827855
                © 2008 Toniutto et al, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd.
                Categories
                Review

                Medicine

                antiviral therapy, liver transplantation, liver cirrhosis, hepatitis c

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