Background: An early virological response (EVR) after the start of interferon (IFN) treatment for chronic hepatitis C leads to a successful virological outcome. To analyze an association between sustained virological response (SVR) and EVR by comparing TaqMan with Amplicor assays in HCV genotype 1-infected patients treated with pegylated (PEG)-IFN alpha-2b plus ribavirin (RBV).Methods: We retrospectively analyzed a total of 80 HCV genotype 1 patients (39 SVR and 41 non-SVR patients), who received an enough dosage and a complete 48-week treatment of PEG-IFN alpha-2b plus RBV. Serum HCV RNA levels were measured by both TaqMan and Amplicor assays for each patients at Weeks 2, 4, 8 and 12 after the start of the antiviral treatment.Results: Of the 80 patients with undetectable HCV RNA by Amplicor, 17 (21.3%) patients were positive for HCV RNA by TaqMan at Weeks 12. The quantification results showed that no significant difference in the decline of HCV RNA level between TaqMan and Amplicor 10-fold method assays within the initial 12 weeks of the treatment was found. However, the qualitative analysis showed significant differences of the positive predictive rates for SVR were found between TaqMan (100% at weeks 4 and 100% at weeks 8) and Amplicor (80.0% and 69.6%, respectively).Conclusions: The COBAS TaqMan HCV assay is very useful for monitoring HCV viremia during antiviral treatment to predict a SVR in HCV genotype 1 patients.
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