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Gastroenterology. 1993 Mar;104(3):877-83.

Quantitative analysis of hepatitis C virus RNA in serum during interferon alfa therapy.

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First Department of Medicine, Osaka University Medical School, Japan.



Interferon alfa is effective for controlling disease activity in chronic hepatitis C. However, many responders suffer relapse after cessation of therapy. In the present study, the serum concentration of hepatitis C virus RNA was correlated with a sustained response to interferon therapy.


Fifty-three patients with chronic hepatitis C received a 26-week course of interferon alfa. Hepatitis C virus RNA was quantitated in serum at the beginning and end of treatment using a competitive assay that combined reverse transcription and polymerase chain reaction.


In long-term responders, whose alanine aminotransferase levels remained within the normal range during the 24 weeks after therapy, the titer of viral RNA (logarithmic transformed copy numbers per milliliter of serum) before therapy (7.1 +/- 1.2) was significantly lower (P < 0.001) than that of short-term responders (8.3 +/- 0.5) who had a relapse within the 24 weeks after therapy and nonresponders (8.1 +/- 0.4). Multivariate multiple logistic regression showed that the titer of viral RNA before therapy was the strongest independent predictor of a sustained response to interferon-alfa therapy (P = 0.002).


The titer of hepatitis C virus RNA is the most important factor influencing the sustained response to interferon treatment.

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