The predictive value of core antigen testing for the management of hepatitis C patients receiving pegylated interferon/ribavirin treatment.
A new quantitative marker of HCV viremia based on the detection of the core antigen of the virus has recently become commercially available in Europe. The usefulness of this test was examined for the management of patients treated with pegylated interferon/ribavirin. One hundred twenty-eight pegylated interferon/ribavirin treated patients were studied. Serum samples were available at baseline, week 4 and week 12 time-points, respectively. Core antigen was quantified using the trak-C assay (Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Raritan, NJ). For all genotypes at week 4, the positive and negative predictive values of HCV core antigen were 81.4 and 92.9%, respectively, while at week 12 they were 67.9 and 100%, respectively. These predictive values varied substantially according to viral genotype. Among patients with a negative core antigen level (<1.5 pg/ml) at week 12, only 33% of those who were positive at week 4 achieved a sustained virological response whereas 85% of those who were already negative did (P < 0.001). The core antigen assay may be used at week 4 and week 12 to distinguish patients who will achieve a sustained virological response from those who will relapse/breakthrough. This assay is a new reliable alternative for early prediction of virological non-response in patients treated with pegylated interferon/ribavirin.
Pradat, P; Maynard, M; Buti, M; Berthillon, P; Picchio, G; Tillmann, HL; Wiegand, J; Voirin, N; Manns, MP; Esteban, J-I; Martinot, M; Marcellin, P; Trepo, C
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