Hepatic fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C assessed by transient elastography: implications for determining the efficacy of antiviral therapy

2010 Revista Española de Enfermedades Digestivas 102;7 (426-434)

BACKGROUND: The efficacy of combination therapy with peginterferon plus ribavirin to eradicate viral infection in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) is well established; moreover, it is able to arrest or even reverse liver fibrosis. AIMS: To analyze the measurements of hepatic stiffness as an index of liver fibrosis using transient elastography (TE) in patients who underwent a sustained virological response (SVR) during long-term follow-up; comparing the changes in the severity of fibrosis with non-responders patients. MATERIAL AND METHODS: After hepatic fibrosis was studied in three patients with CHC who underwent a SVR during long-term follow up, a prospective study was initiated in 24 patients with CHC who received combination therapy to compare the evolution of fibrosis in those with SVR and those who were non-responders. The genotype of hepatitis C virus (HCV) and the degree of viremia were determined. METAVIR scoring system was used for liver fibrosis. Hepatic stiffness was measured by TE. RESULTS: Of the initial three patients pre-treatment liver biopsies revealed active disease and fibrosis (stage 3) in two and mild fibrosis (stage 1) in one. After several years of follow up serum AST/ALT levels were normal and HCV RNA was undetectable in each case; in contrast to the baseline histological assessments of fibrosis, values for hepatic stiffness (3.4-6.9 KPa) were compatible with an absence of any appreciable hepatic fibrosis. In the prospective study, 8 patients underwent a SVR and 16 were non-responders. TE indicated that the severity of hepatic fibrosis in the SVR group improved in 7 (88%) patients, whereas in the non-responder it improved in only 4 (25%) (p or = 3) in responders and non-responders was not significant (p = 0.23), possibly due to the small sample size. CONCLUSIONS: Regression of hepatic fibrosis appears to be common in patients with CHC who undergo a SVR. TE is a simple non-invasive technique that enables multiple assessments of the severity of hepatic fibrosis to be made efficiently during long-term follow-up of patients with CHC who receive combination antiviral therapy.

Pubmed : 20617863