Improved inflammatory activity with peginterferon alfa-2b maintenance therapy in non-cirrhotic prior non-responders: a randomized study.

Journal of hepatology

Poynard T, Bruix J, Schiff ER, Diago M, Berg T, Moreno-Otero R, Lyra AC, Carrilho F, Griffel LH, Boparai N, Jiang R, Burroughs M, Brass CA, Albrecht JK

2013 J. Hepatol. Volume 58 Issue 3

PubMed 23159770 DOI 10.1016/j.jhep.2012.11.001

FibroTest ActiTest Reliability vs. Biopsy HCV Fibrosis Activity/Inflammation


Therapeutic options for patients failing hepatitis C retreatment are limited. EPIC(3) included a prospective trial assessing long-term peginterferon alfa-2b (PegIFNα-2b) maintenance therapy in patients with METAVIR fibrosis scores (MFS) of F2 or F3 who previously failed hepatitis C retreatment.


Patients with F2/F3 MFS who failed retreatment were randomized to PegIFNα-2b (0.5 μg/kg/week, n=270) or observation (n=270) for 36 months. Blinded liver biopsies obtained before retreatment and after maintenance therapy were evaluated using MFS and activity scores, and confirmatory testing was performed using FibroTest and ActiTest.


In total, 348 patients had paired biopsies: 192 patients had missing post-treatment biopsies and were considered as having no change in fibrosis/activity scores. In total, 16% of patients receiving PegIFNα-2b and 11% of observation patients had improvement in MFS (p=0.32). More PegIFNα-2b than observation patients had improvement in activity score (20% vs. 9%; p <0.001). Among patients treated for >2.5 years, improvement in MFS or activity score was more common with PegIFNα-2b than observation (21% vs. 14%, p=0.08 and 26% vs. 10%, p <0.001). FibroTest and ActiTest evaluations indicated significant benefit associated with PegIFNα-2b in terms of reduced fibrosis progression and improved activity score. The safety profile of PegIFNα-2b was similar to previous studies.


PegIFNα-2b did not significantly improve MFS estimated by biopsy compared with observation; however, activity scores were significantly improved and MFS trended toward increased improvement with treatment durations >2.5 years. Both FibroTest and ActiTest were significantly improved during maintenance therapy.

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