BACKGROUND: This study aimed to develop a model to predict the development of severe anemia during pegylated interferon alpha-2b plus ribavirin combination therapy.
METHODS: Data were collected from 1081 genotype 1b chronic hepatitis C patients who were treated at 6 hospitals in Japan. These patients were randomly assigned to a model-building group (n = 691) or an internal validation group (n = 390). Factors predictive of severe anemia (hemoglobin, Hb < 8.5 g/dl) were explored using data-mining analysis.
RESULTS: Hb values at baseline, creatinine clearance (Ccr), and an Hb concentration decline by 2 g/dl at week 2 were used to build a decision-tree model, in which the patients were divided into 5 subgroups based on variable rates of severe anemia ranging from 0.4 to 11.8%. The reproducibility of the model was confirmed by the internal validation group (r (2) = 0.96). The probability of severe anemia was high in patients whose Hb value was <14 g/dl before treatment (6.5%), especially (a) in those whose Ccr was <80 ml/min (11.8%) and (b) those whose Ccr was ≥80 ml/min but whose Hb concentration decline at week 2 was ≥2 g/dl (11.5%). The probability of severe anemia was low in the other patients (0.4-2.5%).
CONCLUSIONS: The decision-tree model that included Hb values at baseline, Ccr, and an Hb concentration decline by 2 g/dl at week 2 was useful for predicting the probability of severe anemia, and has the potential to support clinical decisions regarding early dose reduction of ribavirin.