Objective: We studied the effect of sustained virologic response (SVR) after treatment with pegylated-interferon (PEG-IFN) plus ribavirin on the development of liver cirrhosis in elderly patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC). Patients and methods: This retrospective study enrolled 145 elderly CHC patients (aged ≥65 years) who were treatment-naïve and were treated with PEG-IFN plus ribavirin for 6 months between January 2005 and December 2011. Abdominal sonography was performed and liver biochemistry was studied at baseline, at the end of treatment, and every 3–6 months thereafter. The development of liver cirrhosis and related complications was evaluated at the follow-ups. The aspartate aminotransferase-to-platelet ratio index was used as a noninvasive maker for fibrosis. Results: The mean patient age was 69.1±3.3 years, and the average follow-up time was 5.5 years (standard deviation: 2.5 years, range: 1.1–12.3 years). Ninety-five patients (65.5%) achieved SVR, and 26 (17.9%) discontinued treatment. Twenty-seven patients (18.6%) developed liver cirrhosis after treatment. Patients without SVR had significantly greater risk of liver cirrhosis than those with SVR (hazard ratio [HR]: 3.39, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.312–8.761, P=0.012). The difference in 3-year cumulative incidence of liver cirrhosis was 24.8% greater for patients without SVR (35.2%, 95% CI: 13.0–57.5, P=0.012) compared with those with SVR (10.4%, 95% CI: 3.1–17.7). There was a trend of a higher baseline aspartate aminotransferase-to-platelet ratio index score in patients who progressed to liver cirrhosis compared with those who did not progress (2.1±1.2 vs 1.6±1.3, P=0.055), but the difference failed to reach significance by Cox regression (adjusted HR: 1.285, 95% CI: 0.921–1.791, P=0.14). Conclusion: An SVR following PEG-IFN combination treatment can reduce the risk of liver cirrhosis in elderly CHC patients.
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