Durability of a sustained virological response, late clinical sequelae, and long-term changes in aspartate aminotransferase to the platelet ratio index after successful treatment with peginterferon/ribavirin for chronic hepatitis C: a prospective study.Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013 Jul; 25(7):798-805.EJ
Previous studies, mostly retrospective using conventional interferon, have suggested a favorable prognosis for patients with chronic hepatitis C and a sustained virological response (SVR). However, long-term outcome, including changes in the degree of hepatic fibrosis, of SVR patients in the era of pegylated interferon (PegIFN) remains underdefined. We prospectively evaluated the long-term virological, clinical, and biochemical outcomes, including aspartate aminotransferase-to-platelet ratio index (APRI), in chronic hepatitis C patients with an SVR.
PATIENTS AND METHODS
We included 145 consecutive, treatment-naive chronic hepatitis C patients (mean age 47.3±9.1 years; 87 men; 42.1% genotype 1; 36.6% genotype 2/3) who achieved an SVR after combination therapy with PegIFN-α/ribavirin.
The mean follow-up time was 68.8±35 months. The overall incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and liver-related death was 1.4 and 0.7%, respectively. Among nine (7.6%) patients with pretreatment cirrhosis, two (22.2%) developed HCC and one of them (11.1%) died. No patient had conclusive evidence of late virological relapse. All patients retained normal liver biochemistry, except for five of 145 (3.5%), who had persistently elevated transaminase levels, all of whom were diagnosed with new liver disease. APRI values improved significantly with treatment (0.95±1.09 vs. 0.66±0.64, P<0.001) and continued to improve after a mean of 61.4±45.5 months from an SVR in patients (n=54; 37.2%) with significant (Metavir ≥F2) pretreatment fibrosis (1.13±0.66 vs. 0.67±0.45, P<0.001).
The long-term outcome, including APRI, of chronic hepatitis C patients treated successfully with PegIFN/ribavirin and followed for a mean of 5.7 years is favorable. However, a high risk of progression to HCC and liver-related death remains for patients with pretreatment cirrhosis, in our setting, as high as 22.2 and 11.1%, respectively.