Division of Gastroenterology and Endocrinology, University Medical Center Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.
IL28B genotypes and virological response within 4 weeks are predictors of sustained virological response in patients infected with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 treated with antiviral dual combination therapy. The predictive value of "early" anemia (within 4 weeks) alone or in combination with the two other predictors has not been studied yet. A total of 305 pegylated interferon-α and ribavirin-treated patients with HCV genotype 1 were included in this study. Hemoglobin values at week 0, 4, 8, and 12 as well as the predictive efficiency of early anemia (hemoglobin value below the gender-specific lower limit: female < 11.5; male < 13.5 g/dl) during therapy were assessed with IL28B genotypes and rapid virological response. Forty-eight percent of treated patients developed early anemia. In both females and males (64%), a decrease of hemoglobin concentration of 3 g/dl (female: 14.7 ± 1.1 to 11.4 ± 1.3; male: 15.2 ± 1.2 to 12.2 ± 1.5) significantly correlated with sustained virological response. 64% of IL28B-CC patients showed a sustained virological response. Seventy-eight percent of patients with rapid virological response definitively eliminated the virus. Early anemia (81:48:41%) and rapid virological response (83:91:92%) increased the predictive efficiency of IL28B rs12979860 genotype distribution (CC:CT:TT). IL28B-CC and early anemia as well as IL28B-CC and rapid virological response had an Odds ratio of 42.4 or 75 to achieve a sustained virological response compared to TT without early anemia or rapid virological response. This finding may help to early identify responders to standard PEG-IFN-α and ribavirin treatment even within those with unfavorable IL28B genotype.