Source Division of Hepatogastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
BACKGROUND: Recent studies have indicated that interferon (IFN) or pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) plus ribavirin therapy can achieve sustained virological response (SVR) against HCV equally in dual HBV-HCV infection and in HCV monoinfection. Whether these therapies can reduce hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development in dual HBV-HCV infection remains unclear.
METHODS: A total of 135 dually-infected patients with active hepatitis C receiving IFN or PEG-IFN plus ribavirin therapy were enrolled. The cumulative incidence of HCC was compared to that in 1,470 HCV-monoinfected patients.
RESULTS: Based on the Cox proportional hazards model, dual infection was an independent factor for HCC development in all 1,605 chronic hepatitis C patients with or without positive hepatitis B surface antigen receiving IFN or PEG-IFN plus ribavirin (hazard ratio (HR)=1.864, 95% CI 1.052-3.303; P=0.033). In dually-infected patients, HCC developed in 4 of 96 with HCV SVR and 11 of 39 without HCV SVR (P<0.001) after a median follow-up of 4.6 years. Age (HR=1.175, 95% CI 1.070-1.291; P=0.001) and non-HCV-SVR (HR=7.874, 95% CI 2.375-26.32; P=0.001) were independent factors for HCC development. Subgroup analysis showed that HCC occurrence was lower in patients with HCV SVR and HBV DNA levels <2,000 IU/ml at the end of treatment or follow-up compared to those with HCV SVR and HBV DNA levels ≥2,000 IU/ml (P=0.034) and those without HCV SVR (P<0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Sustained HCV clearance by IFN or PEG-IFN plus ribavirin therapy may significantly reduce HCC in HBV-HCV dually-infected patients, whereas persistence or reactivation of HBV decreases the benefit of HCV SVR.