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Acta Gastroenterol Belg. 2006 Apr-Jun;69(2):187-90.

Effect of interferon alfa and ribavirin treatment on hepatitis C virus RNA in serum and peripheral blood mononuclear cells in children with chronic hepatitis C.

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  • 1Department of Infectious Diseases and Hepatology, Medical University of Lodz, Poland.


The correlations between the severity of hepatic lesions, age, gender, HBV co-infection and negativisation of HCV-RNA from serum and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) after treatment of chronic hepatitis C (CHC) were analysed. 41 children (11 F/ 30 M), aged 5-16 years (mean 10 +/- 2.8), were treated with IFN-alpha and ribavirin for 12 months. Sustained negativisation of HCV-RNA from serum was achieved in 25 patients (61%), in 3 (7%) it reappeared after treatment, and in 13 (32%) it was ineffective. Clearance of HCV did not correlate with age (p = 0.65), sex (p = 0.13), past HBV infection (n = 22 anti-HBc +) (p = 0.24), maximum pre-treatment ALT activity (p = 0.06), grade of inflammation (p = 0.33) or stage of fibrosis (p = 0.9) in liver biopsy. It was achieved in 6/16 children previously resistant to IFN-a monotherapy and in 19/25 naive (p = 0.017). HCV-RNA was detected in PBMC in 9/24 (37%) seronegative children and in 1/21 (5%) in comparative group of seronegative adults; p = 0.004. Persistence of HCV-RNA in PBMC after combined treatment occurred in 5/10 (50%) patients resistant to previous IFN-alpha monotherapy, 6/35 (20%) of them cleared HCV from PBMC (p = 0.04).


Age and gender, infection route, history of HBV infection or severity of histopathologic liver lesions had no influence on the efficacy of treatment with IFN-alpha and ribavirin. Clearance of HCV from serum and from PBMC occurs less frequently in patients previously resistant to IFN-alpha. Children with CHC require longitudinal observation after successful antiviral treatment as in 37% of those considered to be free from the virus by ordinary measures, HCV-RNA was found in PBMC.

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