Disappointing Response of Chronic C Hepatitis to Interferon
E. Theodor, A. Regev
Medicine E and Liver Clinic, Beilinson Medical Center and Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University
From February 1990 to August 1995 we treated 58 patients with chronic hepatitis C using alfa-interferon, 3 million units 3 times weekly for 6 months. Of the 48 patients with adequate follow-up, 34 did not respond to treatment at all. 10 patients responded, but within a few months hepatic enzymes again increased. These 2 groups can be considered failures of interferon treatment. In 4 patients enzymes remained normal for the duration of follow-up, (10-34 months). Even in this small group, 1 patient had a positive test for HCV RNA after completion of treatment. A partial explanation of our disappointing results may be the high prevalence of a subtype of C hepatitis-subtype 1b, which has recently been reported in Israel. This strain is particularly resistant to interferon. The means to define subtypes were not, and as far as we know are not yet available in Israel. Various groups have attempted to improve the outcome of treatment of hepatitis C, which in other hands too was still far from satisfactory. Thus, regimens of interferon utilizing higher doses and longer periods of treatment are being evaluated, as well as the addition of Ribavirin, which hopefully will improve results.