A retrospective analysis of treatment outcomes in patients with hepatitis C related systemic vasculitis receiving intravenous methylprednisolone and cyclophosphamide
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- Shahin, A.A., El Desouky, S.M. & Zayed, H.S. Clin Rheumatol (2011) 30: 607. doi:10.1007/s10067-010-1582-4
The aim of this work is to describe the outcome of a series of patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related vasculitis who were treated with corticosteroids and I.V. cyclophosphamide without receiving any antiviral therapy. The data of 16 patients with HCV infection and vasculitis were retrospectively analyzed for the treatment outcome in the present study. Eleven patients were females (68.8%) with a mean age of 49.6 ± 10.0 years. Nine patients (56.2%) had medium-sized vessel vasculitis (group A) and seven patients (43.8%) had small vessel vasculitis (group B). Disease activity was assessed using the Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score (BVAS 2003) and organ damage was assessed by the Vasculitis Damage Index (VDI). HCV infection was confirmed in all patients by the detection of antibodies to HCV in serum by ELISA and HCV RNA using qualitative PCR. Quantitative PCR was done using the branched DNA technique. None of our study patients had received antiviral therapy, but they all received I.V.-pulsed cyclophosphamide monthly for 6 months, then every 3 months for six times if needed, preceded by I.V. methylprednisolone. Twelve patients (75%) had undetectable viral load by the quantitative technique. The drop in mean BVAS recorded at different intervals was highly significant. Although there was a drop in the VDI mean between the first and second reading, it was not statistically significant. All patients responded to treatment. Seven patients (43.8%) had relapse. Two patients died (12.5%). One patient died from renal failure (group B) and another died from sepsis (group A). The treatment outcomes were not statistically significant between the two vasculitis groups. A subset of patients with HCV-related vasculitis and with low levels of viremia can be safely treated with corticosteroids and cyclophosphamide alone. Despite successful treatment, a significant proportion of patients relapse and some develop severe complications and death.