Background & Aims: The relationship between serum peginterferon pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics and the early virologic response (EVR) to peginterferon and ribavirin therapy was assessed in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 infection. Methods: A total of 333 patients (160 African Americans [AA] and 173 Caucasian Americans [CA]) who received peginterferon alfa-2a (180 μg/wk) without a dose modification during the initial 4 weeks of therapy were analyzed. Peginterferon and 2,5-oligoadenylate synthetase (2,5-OAS) serum levels were measured on days 0, 1, 2, 3, 7, 14, 28, 56, 84, and 168 of treatment. The EVR (≥2-log10 decline in HCV RNA levels by week 12 of therapy) was the primary virologic end point. Results: Peginterferon pharmacokinetics after the first dose were similar in AA and CA, but AA had greater peginterferon concentrations at days 1, 3, 14, and 28 (P < .05). AA had higher absolute serum 2,5-OAS levels on days 0, 1, 2, 3, 7, 14, 28, and 56 (P < .05), but the magnitude of 2,5-OAS induction during treatment were similar. AA patients showed a smaller decline in serum HCV RNA during the first 28 days of treatment (P < .001) and a lower EVR (65% vs 83%). AA and CA with EVR had significantly higher serum peginterferon concentrations and serum 2,5-OAS induction during the first 12 weeks than patients without an EVR. Conclusions: Peginterferon alfa-2a pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic variability is associated with EVR in both AA and CA with HCV infection, but do not explain the racial disparity in combination treatment efficacy.
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