Aim: The optimal duration of follow-up for patients who achieve sustained virologic responses (SVR) has become an important issue. Reports on long-term follow-up of SVR have indicated that 99% of patients maintained SVR. However, the limitations of a majority of studies include small patient numbers, short study periods, and lack of molecular analysis of hepatitis C virus (HCV) genome. The present study sought to evaluate the late relapse rate in long-term follow-up of patients who achieved SVR, with molecular analysis of HCV. Methods: A total of 224 patients with chronic hepatitis C who were treated by interferon and ribavirin-based therapy and achieved SVR were enrolled. All patients were recommended for follow-up every 6 or 12 months. Results: The mean follow-up period was 6.0 years (range, 1.0–13.6 years). Cumulative 5- and 10-year follow-up rates of the patients after SVR were 87.8% and 78.8%, respectively. Cumulative 5- and 10-year follow-up rates of serum HCV RNA after SVR were 85.5% and 52.6%, respectively. Two patients had detectable serum HCV RNA at 20 and 30 months, respectively, after SVR. Phylogenetic analyses of core, non-structural protein 3, and 5A regions of HCV strains from late relapse patients confirmed the same strain was present at baseline and late relapse. Conclusions: Two of 224 patients developed late relapse of HCV by the original strain, which was confirmed by direct sequencing analysis. Although few patients may develop late relapse, SVR achieved with interferon and ribavirin-based therapy is durable for prolonged periods.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases