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Hepatology. 2004 Jun;39(6):1721-31.

Pegylated interferon alpha therapy in acute hepatitis C: relation to hepatitis C virus-specific T cell response kinetics.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Pegylated interferon alpha (PEG IFN-alpha) improves sustained virological response rates in chronic hepatitis C, but neither its role in acute hepatitis C nor the biologic basis for its action has been defined. This prospective study assessed the efficacy of PEG IFN-alpha treatment in acute hepatitis C in relation to the kinetics of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-specific CD4(+) T cell responses during therapy and follow-up. Forty subjects with proven acute hepatitis C who received either PEG IFN-alpha plus ribavirin (n = 20) or PEG IFN-alpha monotherapy (n = 20) for 24 weeks in addition to 14 untreated subjects with acute hepatitis C were prospectively followed. Serum HCV RNA, HCV-specific CD4(+) T cell responses, and cytokine production were measured before and during therapy and at follow-up and correlated to the outcome. The sustained virological response rate was 85% with PEG IFN-alpha/ribavirin combination and 80% with PEG IFN-alpha monotherapy. Five untreated subjects had spontaneous recovery. The frequency, magnitude, and breadth of HCV-specific CD4(+) T helper 1 responses were significantly higher in treated subjects compared with untreated subjects with self-limited disease or subjects with chronic evolution. The CD4(+) T cell responses were maintained in subjects with sustained virological responses and self-limited disease but fluctuated in those who developed chronic infection. In conclusion, PEG IFN-alpha therapy in acute hepatitis induces high rates of sustained virological response and prevents choronicity, probably through efficient early stimulation of multispecific HCV-specific CD4(+) T helper 1 responses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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