Author(s): Farci P, Roskams T, Chessa L, Peddis G, Mazzoleni AP,
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Abstract BACKGROUND & AIMS: Little is known about the long-term effects of interferon alpha on clinical outcome and survival of patients with chronic hepatitis D. METHODS: Thirty-six patients with chronic hepatitis D who participated in a randomized controlled trial of a 48-week course of high (9 million units) or low (3 million units) doses of interferon alpha or no treatment were followed for an additional 2 to 14 years. RESULTS: Long-term survival was significantly longer in the high-dose group than in untreated controls (P = 0.003) or in the low-dose group (P = 0.019) but did not differ between patients treated with 3 million units and controls. Among surviving patients at 12 years of follow-up, a biochemical response was present in 7 of 12 treated with 9 million units, in 2 of 4 who received 3 million units, and in none of 3 controls. Long-term alanine aminotransferase (ALT) normalization correlated with improved hepatic function and loss of IgM antibody to hepatitis delta antigen (anti-HD). Patients in the high-dose group had a sustained decrease in HDV replication (P = 0.008), leading to clearance of HDV RNA and, eventually, hepatitis B virus (HBV) in some patients, as well as a dramatic improvement in liver histology with respect to activity grade (P = 0.0004) and fibrosis stage (P = 0.007). Strikingly, we documented an absence of fibrosis in the final biopsy of 4 patients with a long-term biochemical response and an initial diagnosis of active cirrhosis. CONCLUSIONS: High doses of interferon alpha-2a significantly improved the long-term clinical outcome and survival of patients with chronic hepatitis D, even though the majority had active cirrhosis before the onset of therapy.
This article was published in Gastroenterology
and referenced in Journal of Infectious Diseases & Therapy