Relative impact of ribavirin monitoring and HIV coinfection on sustained virological response in patients with chronic hepatitis C.
BACKGROUND/AIMS The rapid decline in hepatitis C virus RNA is crucial for determining the outcome of therapy in patients with genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C. However, the variables influencing the early phase of viral decay are still largely unexplored. We aimed to assess which pre-treatment variable may predict rapid virologic response (RVR) and sustained virologic response (SVR). METHODS We evaluated 90 consecutive non-diabetic patients with genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C without cirrhosis, treated with peginterferon alpha-2b plus ribavirin. Viral load (COBAS Amplicore, Roche) was measured at 1, 4 and 12 weeks after starting treatment, and then 24 weeks after the end of treatment. RESULTS The overall SVR was 47%. The SVR in patients with RVR was 100%. Age, GGT levels, viral load, steatosis, fibrosis and HOMA-IR were significantly associated with RVR in univariate analysis. After logistic regression, HOMA-IR proved to be the strongest independent predictor of RVR (OR 0.37, 95% CI: 0.16-0.89; p=0.027), whereas fibrosis had a weaker independent association with RVR (OR 0.32, 95% CI: 0.1-1.04; p=0.057). Among the eight pre-treatment variables, both BMI and steatosis were significantly associated with HOMA-IR, either in univariate or in multivariate analyses. CONCLUSIONS Our data suggest that insulin resistance is strongly associated with RVR, thus reflecting the important role played by metabolic factors in the early phase of viral kinetics. HOMA-IR would appear to be a useful tool in predicting RVR and should be evaluated at baseline in all chronic hepatitis C patients before initiating antiviral treatment.