Patients should have had a liver biopsy showing at least Stage 3 disease prior to being considered for this study. A baseline liver biopsy is necessary for inclusion in the study. Baseline liver biopsies can be performed within six months of entering the study.
In patients with cirrhosis and endoscopic evidence of portal hypertension, a biopsy within the last 2 years is acceptable as the baseline biopsy. For patients with established cirrhosis on liver biopsy and no portal hypertension, a biopsy within 12 months can be used as the baseline biopsy if it is available for evaluation by the Pathology core. All these patients will still require liver biopsy at 2 years and 4 years. The decision to biopsy at 2 and 4 years is also a clinical decision and in the presence of clinical progression or coagulopathy, or where there may be a risk from liver biopsy, the Investigator should call the PI, Dr. Afdhal for a waiver of biopsy. Patients with Ishak Stage 3 and 4 require a biopsy within 6 months of randomization.
- Hemoglobin >= 11 g/dl in males and 10 g/dl in females
- Neutrophil count > 1,500/mm3
- Platelets > 50, 000/mm3
Platelet count: For standard dose of PEG-Intron 0.5mcg/kg platelet count must be greater than 70,000. Patients with platelet count 50 - 70,000 can start at 0.25mcg/kg for weeks 0 - 4. If platelets fall to less than 30,000, stop treatment. If platelets remain > 50,000 at week 4, PEG-Intron can be increased to 0.5mcg/kg. Patients randomized to Colchicine with platelets 50,000 - 70,000 can be started at standard dose 0.6mg bid po with standard dose reduction.
- Prothrombin time <= 3secs prolonged compared to control or an equivalent INR < 1.5
- Total bilirubin < 3gm/dL
- Fasting blood sugar <= 115 mg/dl or within 20% of the upper limit of normal for non-diabetic patients
- Albumin (> 2.8mg/dl)
- Serum creatinine < 1.4 mg/dL
- TSH within the normal range (Patients with thyroid disease who are well controlled are eligible if the remainder of the inclusion/exclusion criteria are met)
- HBsAg negative
- Childs Pugh score of less than or equal to 7
- Serum positive for anti-hepatitis C antibodies or HCV RNA.
- Alpha-fetoprotein < 100ng/ml with ultrasound negative for focal mass or HCC. For any patient with an Alpha-fetoprotein >100 ng/ml either a triple phase contrast CT scan or MRI with gadolinium must show no focal mass or evidence of HCC
- Ultrasound with no evidence of focal mass suggestive of hepatoma (within 6 months of informed consent).
- Documentation that sexually active female patients of childbearing potential are practicing adequate contraception during the treatment period. A urine pregnancy test obtained at entry prior to the initiation of treatment must be negative. Female patients must not be breast-feeding. Documentation that sexually active male patients are practicing acceptable methods of contraception during the treatment period.
- Written informed consent specific for this protocol has been obtained prior to entry.
- Evidence of decompensated liver disease such as a history or presence of ascites, and spontaneous encephalopathy. Patients with past bleeding esophageal varices that have not bled for more than 1 year can be included.
- Hypersensitivity to alpha interferon
- Drug related liver disease
- Hemoglobinopathies (e.g. Thalassaemia, sickle cell disease).
- Patients with clinically significant retinal abnormalities.
- Substance abuse, such as alcohol (·> 80 gm/day), I.V. drugs and inhaled drugs. If the patient has a history of substance abuse, to be considered for inclusion into the protocol, the patient must have abstained from using the abused substance for at least 6 months. Patients on methadone will be allowed in the study with no restrictions as is now standard of care in HCV therapy.
- Patients with a history of organ transplantation will be excluded.
Preexisting psychiatric conditions, especially depression, or a history of severe psychiatric disorder, such as major psychoses, suicidal ideation and/or suicidal attempt are excluded. Patients with a history of mild depression may enter the protocol if they meet the following eligibility criterion and are monitored more intensively.
Mild depression: to include either situational depression of a limited period or depressive symptoms, which do not significantly interfere with the patient's work or daily functions.
Any patient with an active manic element to his/her previous symptom complex will be excluded.
Any known pre-existing medical condition that could interfere with the patient's participation in and completion of the study such as:
- Pre-existing psychiatric condition, especially severe depression, or a history of severe psychiatric disorder
- CNS trauma or seizure disorder requiring therapy
- Significant cardiac dysfunction in the previous 6 months e.g. angina, CCF, hypertension or arrhythmia Patients on treatment are eligible as long as they have been symptom free for the previous 6 months.
- Poorly controlled diabetes mellitus
- Chronic pulmonary disease (e.g. COAD)
- Immunologically mediated diseases (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease, SLE, ITP, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, severe psoriasis)
- Clinical gout
- Patients with clinically significant retinal abnormalities
- Patients with organ transplants
Any other condition, which in the view of the investigator, would make the patient unsuitable for enrolment, or could interfere with the patient participating in and completing the protocol are included as well.