Hepatology Unit, 1st Department of Propaedeutic Medicine-Athens University Medical School, Laiko General Hospital. 17 Ag. Thoma Str., 11527, Goudi, Athens, Greece. email@example.com
HCV infection and transfusional iron overload in Thalassemic patients may result in liver disease. HCV treatment in Thalassemia has raised safety concerns.
Estimate effectiveness and tolerability of interferon-based therapy in HCV-infected Thalassemic patients.
MATERIAL AND METHODS:
Over a 12-year period, consecutive patients with β Thalassemia major (TM) and chronic hepatitis C received treatment. Liver biopsy, HCV-RNA and genotyping were performed beforehand. Sustained virological response (SVR) was defined as negative HCV-RNA 6 months post-treatment. Forty eight patients (26 M-22 F, mean age 39.8) were enrolled. Twenty nine patients were treated with conventional interferon alpha (IFNa) for 48 weeks (group A). Nineteen patients (10 naïve-9 previously IFNa experienced) received pegylated interferon (PEGIFN) (group B).
HCV-1 was found in 44%, HCV-2 in 14%, HCV-3 in 23% and HCV-4 in 19%. Group A: ten patients (38.5%) achieved SVR, 2 (7.5%) relapsed and 17 (54%) were non responders. Group B: five (28%) achieved SVR, 8 (44%) relapsed and 6 (28%) never responded. High HCV-RNA levels, genotype 1 and advanced liver fibrosis were independently associated with no response. Four patients (3 treated with IFNα, 1 with PEG-IFN) had to discontinue treatment due to complications.
The response rate of IFN monotherapy in multi-transfused, HCV-infected Thalassemic patients is not inferior to that in non-multitransfused patients. IFNa administration is well-tolerated and should be recommended as initial treatment schedule in this setting.