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Gastroenterology. 2010 Nov;139(5):1602-11, 1611.e1. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2010.07.059. Epub 2010 Aug 16.

Hepatitis C virus treatment-related anemia is associated with higher sustained virologic response rate.

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Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21287-0003, USA.



Hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment is frequently complicated by anemia from ribavirin (RBV)-related hemolysis and peginterferon-alfa (PEG-IFN)-related bone marrow suppression. We investigated the relationships among treatment outcomes, anemia, and their management with RBV dose reduction and/or erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs).


We analyzed data from a trial conducted at 118 United States academic and community centers in treatment-naïve patients with HCV genotype 1. Patients were treated for as many as 48 weeks with 1 of 3 PEG-IFN/RBV regimens. ESAs were permitted for anemic patients (hemoglobin [Hb] <10 g/dL) after RBV dose reduction. Sustained virologic responses (SVR) were assessed based on decreases in Hb, anemia, and ESA use.


While patients received treatment, 3023 had their Hb levels measured at least once. An SVR was associated with the magnitude of Hb decrease: >3 g/dL, 43.7%; ≤3 g/dL, 29.9% (P < .001). Anemia occurred in 865 patients (28.6%); 449 of these (51.9%) used ESAs. In patients with early-onset anemia (≤ 8 weeks of treatment), ESAs were associated with higher SVR rate (45.0% vs 25.9%; P < .001) and reduced discontinuation of treatment because of adverse events (12.6% vs 30.1%, P < .001). ESAs did not affect SVR or discontinuation rates among patients with late-stage anemia.


Among HCV genotype 1-infected patients treated with PEG-IFN/RBV, anemia was associated with higher rates of SVR. The effect of ESAs varied by time to anemia; patients with early-onset anemia had higher rates of SVR with ESA use, whereas no effect was observed in those with late-onset anemia. Prospective trials are needed to assess the role of ESAs in HCV treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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