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J Hepatol. 2007 Oct;47(4):484-91. Epub 2007 Jun 27.

Peg-interferon alone or combined with ribavirin in HCV cirrhosis with portal hypertension: a randomized controlled trial.

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  • 1Cattedra di Gastroenterologia and UnitĂ  Operativa Complessa di Gastroenterologia ed Epatologia, Di.Bi.M.I.S, Piazza delle Cliniche 2, 90127 Palermo, Italy.



Risks and benefits of antiviral therapy in HCV cirrhosis with portal hypertension are poorly known.


We performed a randomized controlled trial in 102 HCV patients with compensated cirrhosis and portal hypertension: 51 received 1 microg/kg/week of Pegylated-interferon alpha-2b and 51 Pegylated-interferon plus 800 mg/day of ribavirin up to 52 weeks.


By intention-to-treat analysis, five patients on monotherapy and eleven on combination therapy achieved a sustained virological response (9.8% vs. 21.6%, p=0.06). The response was more frequent for genotypes 2 or 3 than genotype 1 (66.6% vs. 11.3%, p=0.001). Genotype 1, who had low viral load at start of therapy, were HCV-RNA negative at 4 weeks, and were adherent to the scheduled therapy had a higher probability of sustained virological response. Patients with sustained virological response had less disease events compared to nonresponders (6.2% vs. 38.3%, p=0.03 by log rank test) during follow-up.


In HCV cirrhosis with portal hypertension Peg-interferon plus ribavirin is a feasible treatment. Although the rate of viral eradication is modest, tailoring by genotype and early viral response allows to keep patients on treatment who are more likely to have viral eradication. Patients with viral eradication have fewer disease complications during follow-up.

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