Source National Hepatology and Tropical Medicine Research Institute (NHTMRI), Cairo, Egypt.
This study researches the efficacy and safety of pegylated interferon alpha-2a (pegIFNα-2a) in Egyptian children and adolescents diagnosed with hepatitis C virus. Thirty patients were enrolled to receive pegIFN once a week with ribavirin twice daily for 12 weeks; viral load and experienced adverse effects were then assessed.
Of the 30 patients, 16 (53.33%) were cleared from the virus, showing early virologic response (EVR). Three patients (10%) showed a 2-log reduction by week 12, with an overall early response rate of 63.33%. Three patients who showed EVR after 4 weeks relapsed by week 12. Levels of serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) normalized at week 12. Adverse events included fever, myalgia, headache, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, anemia, and leucopenia; 63.33% of the patients showed significant reduction in their body weight. Although the patients showed a reduction in average body mass index, this reduction was not significant. Hemoglobin values decreased within the first 2 weeks and then stabilized but not back to baseline.
A significant reduction in the level of absolute neutrophil count (ANC) was observed by the 4th week and started to improve by the 12th week. Of the recruited patients, 29.4% were subjected to IFN dose reduction. None of the patients with neutropenia developed serious infection or sepsis. The authors concluded that pegIFN plus ribavirin therapy is promising when tested on Egyptian children.