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Short-course Pegylated Interferon for Acute Hepatitis C

Acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection resolves spontaneously without treatment in a minority of patients. Past studies have shown that early treatment with interferon-based therapy during the acute phase (the first 6 months) produces high sustained response rates, but an optimal treatment strategy has not yet been defined.

As described in the February 2007 Journal of Viral Hepatitis, Italian researchers conducted a multicenter open-label study to investigate the therapeutic performance of a short course of pegylated interferon-alpha in patients with acute HCV infection. A total of 46 participants were treated with 1.0-1.5 mcg/kg/week pegylated interferon alpha-2b (PegIntron) for 12 weeks.


  • Treatment was started within 1-90 days of reaching peak alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels.
  • 11 of the patients had jaundice.
  • 33 of 46 patients (72%) achieved sustained virological response (SVR) after a 6-month post-treatment follow-up period.
  • 8 subjects (17%) relapsed after the completion of treatment.
  • 4 (9%) were non-responders (9%).

  • Factors that predicted SVR were:

- lower peak HCV viral load;

- receiving at least 1.2 mcg/kg/week of pegylated interferon;

- undetectable HCV-RNA at week 4 and at week 12.

  • Treatment was well tolerated, with only 1 dropout (2%).



In conclusion, the authors wrote, "in patients with early (week 4) viral response, a short course of [pegylated interferon alpha], at a weekly dose > 1.2 mcg/kg, may be a valuable option for the treatment of acute HCV hepatitis."

G Calleri, G Cariti, F Gaiottino, and others. A short course of pegylated interferon-alpha in acute HCV hepatitis. Journal of Viral Hepatitis 14(2): 116-121. February 2007.

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