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Blood. 2010 Jul 22;116(3):343-53. doi: 10.1182/blood-2009-10-245878. Epub 2010 Mar 22.

Pegylated interferon-alpha, ribavirin, and rituximab combined therapy of hepatitis C virus-related mixed cryoglobulinemia: a long-term study.

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Sections of Internal Medicine and Clinical Oncology, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Human Oncology, University of Bari Medical School, Bari, Italy.


This study illustrates the use and efficacy of a combination of pegylated interferon-alpha (Peg-IFN-alpha) and ribavirin (RBV), with or without rituximab (RTX), in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related mixed cryoglobulinemia (MC). Twenty-two patients with HCV-related MC received Peg-IFN-alpha (2a: 180 mug or 2b: 1.5 mug/kg) weekly plus RBV (1000 or 1200 mg) daily for 48 weeks, and RTX (375 mg/m(2)) once a week for 1 month followed by two 5-monthly infusions (termed PIRR). Fifteen additional patients received Peg-IFN-alpha/RBV with the same modalities as the PIRR schedule. Complete response was achieved in 54.5% (12/22) and in 33.3% (5/15) of patients who received PIRR and Peg-IFN-alpha/RBV, respectively (P < .05). Clearance of HCV RNA and conversion of B-cell populations from oligoclonal to polyclonal in liver, bone marrow, and peripheral blood was maintained for up to 3 years in 10 of 12 (83.3%) and in 2 of 5 (40%) patients receiving PIRR and Peg-IFN-alpha/RBV, respectively (P < .01). Cryoproteins in 22.7% (5/22) of patients with PIRR and in 33.3% (5/15) with Peg-IFN-alpha/RBV persisted despite sustained HCV RNA clearance. No response occurred in remaining 5 patients of both groups. PIRR therapy is well tolerated and more effective than Peg-IFN-alpha/RBV combination in HCV-related MC. Its effect may last for more than 3 years.

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