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J Gastroenterol. 2013 Mar;48(3):382-90. doi: 10.1007/s00535-012-0641-9. Epub 2012 Aug 9.

Inhibition of hepatocellular carcinoma by PegIFNα-2a in patients with chronic hepatitis C: a nationwide multicenter cooperative study.

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Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Musashino Red-Cross Hospital, Musashino, Japan.



We investigated whether the administration of maintenance doses of interferon prevented hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with chronic hepatitis C.


Study 1: A multicenter, retrospective, cooperative study was carried out to determine whether long-term administration of low-dose peginterferon alpha-2a (PegIFNα-2a) prevented HCC development in patients with chronic hepatitis C. In total, 594 chronic hepatitis C patients without a history of HCC were enrolled and treated with 90 μg PegIFNα-2a administered weekly or bi-weekly for at least 1 year. Study 2: HCC developed in 16 of 99 additional patients without PegIFNα-2a treatment during 3.8 years of observation. A propensity-matched control study was then carried out to compare the incidence of HCC between the 59 patients who received low-dose PegIFNα-2a (PegIFNα-2a group) and 59 patients who did not receive PegIFNα-2a treatment (control group), matched for sex, age, platelet count, and total bilirubin levels.


Study 1: HCC developed in 49 patients. The risk of HCC was lower in patients with undetectable hepatitis C virus RNA, ≤40 IU/L alanine aminotransferase (ALT), or ≤10 ng/L alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) 24 weeks after the start of therapy. Study 2: The incidence of HCC was significantly lower in the PegIFNα-2a group than in the control group.


Low-dose and long-term maintenance administration of PegIFNα-2a decreased the incidence of HCC in patients with normalized ALT and AFP levels at 24 weeks compared with patients without normal ALT and AFP levels.

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