Side effects of antiviral therapies for hepatitis C, especially hematologic abnormalities, may decrease both therapeutic adherence and therapeutic success rate. Adherence to therapy is essential to achieve an early viral response (EVR), and this is vital for attaining a sustained viral response (SVR). Discontinuation of anti-viral therapy is the only way to prevent progressive thrombocytopenia; however, discontinuation of therapy may reduce the rate of viral clearance and SVR. Our aim is to study effects of antiviral therapy for HCV on platelet count. One hundred sixty eight adult patients with chronic hepatitis C were enrolled in this study and subcategorized into 3 groups: group (1) contains 56 patients receiving IFN, ribavirin and sofosbuvir (triple therapy); group (2) contains 55 patients receiving ribavirin and sofosbuvir (SOF/RBV); and group (3) contains 57 patients receiving simeprevir and sofosbuvir (SIM/SOF). HCV RNA by PCR were checked basically for all studied patients. Follow-up platelet count was done weekly during the first month then monthly till end of treatment. Follow-up of platelet count decrement was assessed at the 2nd week, 4th week and end of antiviral therapy for all studied groups.
We found that in the 2nd week and 4th week, most of patients (76.2%, 71.4%) showed platelet count decrement during antiviral therapy. The decrement of platelet at the 2nd week, 4th week and at end of treatment was much noticed with the SOF/RBV antiviral therapy studied group. None of the patients developed severe thrombocytopenia; none of the patients needed to stop antiviral therapy due to thrombocytopenia, only 6 patients needed dose modification, most of them were from the triple therapy group.
We concluded that thrombocytopenia in chronic HCV infection has a multifactorial pathophysiology and remains a major problem. The recent change in direct-acting antiviral therapy (DAA) without IFN, as the frontline therapy for HCV, permit to avoid the dilemmas associated with initiating or maintaining IFN-based antiviral therapy. DAAs, with high SVR and few haematological adverse effects, have been shown to improve thrombocytopenia associated with HCV infection as well as advanced hepatic disease.