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Am J Kidney Dis. 2008 Feb;51(2):263-77. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2007.11.003.

Interferon treatment in hemodialysis patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection: a systematic review of the literature and meta-analysis of treatment efficacy and harms.

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  • 1Division of Nephrology, Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies, Tufts-New England Medical Center, Boston, MA 02111, USA.



Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is prevalent in patients undergoing hemodialysis and is associated with greater mortality. We determined the efficacy and harms of interferon (IFN) and pegylated IFN (PEG-IFN) treatment of hemodialysis patients with chronic HCV infection and identified factors associated with these outcomes.


Meta-analysis and meta-regression of randomized controlled trials, uncontrolled trials, and prospective observational studies.


Hemodialysis patients with chronic HCV infection.


MEDLINE indexed studies since 1966, sample size greater than 10.


IFN-based treatment, including PEG-IFN with and without ribavirin.


Sustained virological response (SVR) 6 months after treatment, rate of treatment discontinuation caused by adverse events, and factors associated with these outcomes.


20 studies of 459 IFN-treated patients, 3 studies of 38 PEG-IFN-treated patients, and 2 studies of 49 PEG-IFN and ribavirin-treated patients met inclusion criteria. The overall SVR rate was 41% (95% confidence interval [CI], 33 to 49) for IFN and 37% (95% CI, 9 to 77) for PEG-IFN. Treatment discontinuation rates were 26% (95% CI, 20 to 34) for IFN and 28% (95% CI, 12 to 53) for PEG-IFN. SVR was higher with 3 million units (MU) or higher of IFN 3 times weekly, with lower mean HCV RNA, and with lower rates of cirrhosis, HCV genotype 1 or elevated transaminase, but these findings were not statistically significant. Treatment discontinuation rates were greater in studies using larger doses.


Publication bias, few randomized controlled trials, and limitations in generalizability to all hemodialysis patients.


IFN treatment of hemodialysis patients results in an SVR rate of 41%. Higher dose, lower mean HCV RNA level, and lower rates of cirrhosis, transaminase level increase, and HCV genotype 1 may be associated with greater SVR rates, but additional studies using individual patient data are needed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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