Ten-year follow-up analysis of chronic hepatitis C patients after getting sustained virological response to pegylated interferon-α and ribavirin therapy.J Viral Hepat 2016; 23(12):971-976JV
There is little data on the long-term follow-up outcomes of chronic hepatitis C patients achieving sustained virological response (SVR) after treatment with peglylated interferon-α plus ribavirin. We prospectively investigated the overall clinical, biochemical, virological and histological outcomes in a ten-year cohort study of 325 patients with chronic hepatitis C achieving SVR to pegylated interferon-α and ribavirin therapy. Patients underwent consistent clinical, biochemical and virological evaluation every six months, and patients with pretherapy Ishak fibrosis score ≥2 were invited to accept a second liver biopsy at the last follow-up. Liver biopsy specimens were evaluated using Ishak's scoring system. At the end of follow-up, five patients developed decompensated liver cirrhosis. One patient (0.3%) with pretherapy cirrhosis was diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). A total of 305 patients (94%) had normal serum ALT and AST levels during the entire period of follow-up. Twenty-seven patients (8%) had conclusive evidence of virological relapse. Among the 117 patients with paired pretherapy and long-term follow-up biopsies, 96 (82%) had a decreased fibrosis score. Ninety-nine (79%) had a decrease in combined inflammation score. Thirty-seven (32%) had normal or nearly normal livers on long-term follow-up biopsy. SVR achieved with PEG-IFN-α and RBV combination therapy is durable, while late virological relapse may still occur in some patients. Clinical outcomes for patients who obtain SVR are excellent, although the patients with cirrhosis are still at a low risk of hepatocellular carcinoma.