Hôpital Cochin, Paris; Hôpital Saint-Antoine, Paris.
To determine the effect of maintenance therapy with ribavirin alone, after a year of combined peginterferon-alfa 2a (PEG-IFNα-2a) and ribavirin therapy, on viral response and liver histology after liver transplantation (LT).
101 patients with recurrent HCV and a minimum of stage 1 fibrosis (METAVIR scoring), 1-5 years after LT, were enrolled. PEG-IFNα-2a and ribavirin were initiated at 90 μg/wk and 600 mg/d, respectively, then increased or adjusted as a function of tolerance. At 12 months, combination therapy was discontinued and patients were randomized to ribavirin or placebo for a further 12 months. Growth factor use was permitted.
At 18 months, a sustained virological response (SVR) was obtained in 47.9% of patients in Per Protocol analysis, and was higher in patients with genotype 2 or 3 than in patients with genotype 1 or 4, in patients with genotypes 1+4 receiving ciclosporine than in those receiving tacrolimus, in patients with worse renal function, in those having received EPO, in patients with lower weight, and in those with lower viral load at 3 months. Using logistic regression, only the early viral response, recipient weight and renal function were independently associated with better SVR. SVR, viral load, activity and fibrosis scores were similar, at M18 and M30, in patients randomized to ribavirin, or to placebo.
A PP SVR was achieved in 47.9% of patients with established recurrent hepatitis C after LT. Maintenance therapy with ribavirin alone does not improve the virological response nor the histological parameters.