Asian patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) are known to have better virological responses to pegylated (Peg) IFN-based therapy than Western patients. Although IL28B gene polymorphisms may contribute to this difference, whether favorable hepatitis C virus (HCV) kinetics during treatment plays a role remains unclear. We enrolled 145 consecutive Taiwanese patients with CHC receiving Peg-IFN ?-2a plus ribavirin for the study. Blood samples were taken more frequently at defined intervals in the first 3 d. Peg-IFN was administered at week 1. It was then administered weekly in combination with daily ribavirin for 24 or 48 wk.
A mathematical model fitted to the observed HCV kinetics was constructed, which could interpret the transient HCV titer elevation after Peg-IFN treatment. The results demonstrated a comparable viral clearance rate (c = 3.45 � 3.73) (day(-1), mean � SD) but lower daily viral production rate (P = 10(6)-10(12)) in our patients than those reported previously in Western patients. Of 110 patients with a sustained virological response (SVR), 47 (43%) had a transient elevation of viral titer within 12 h (proportion of 12 h/3 d: 44% in non-SVR vs. 70% in SVR; P = 0.029).
Among 91 patients with available rs8099917 data, patients with the TT genotype had an early surge of viral titer after therapy and a higher SVR and viral clearance rate than those with the GT genotype. In conclusion, Taiwanese patients with CHC receiving Peg-IFN plus ribavirin therapy have a lower daily viral production rate than Western patients, and the rs8099917 TT genotype may contribute to the increased viral clearance rate and better virological responses in these patients.