Hepatitis C virus core antigen: A simplified treatment monitoring tool, including for post-treatment relapse Academic Article uri icon


  • Simple, affordable diagnostic tools are essential to facilitate global hepatitis C virus (HCV) elimination efforts.This study evaluated the clinical performance of core antigen (HCVcAg) assay from plasma samples to monitor HCV treatment efficacy and HCV viral recurrence.Plasma samples from a study of response-guided pegylated-interferon/ribavirin therapy for people who inject drugs with chronic HCV genotype 2/3 infection were assessed for HCV RNA (AmpliPrep/COBAS Taqman assay, Roche) and HCVcAg (ARCHITECT HCV Ag, Abbott Diagnostics) during and after therapy. The sensitivity and specificity of the HCVcAg assay was compared to the HCV RNA assay (gold standard).A total of 335 samples from 92 enrolled participants were assessed (mean 4 time-points per participant). At baseline, end of treatment response (ETR) and sustained virological response (SVR) visits, the sensitivity of the HCVcAg assay with quantifiable HCV RNA threshold was 94% (95% CI: 88%, 98%), 56% (21%, 86%) and 100%, respectively. The specificity was between 98 to 100% for all time-points assessed. HCVcAg accurately detected all six participants with viral recurrence, demonstrating 100% sensitivity and specificity. One participant with detectable (non-quantifiable) HCV RNA and non-reactive HCVcAg at SVR12 subsequently cleared HCV RNA at SVR24.HCVcAg demonstrated high sensitivity and specificity for detection of pre-treatment and post-treatment viraemia. This study indicates that confirmation of active HCV infection, including recurrent viraemia, by HCVcAg is possible. Reduced on-treatment sensitivity of HCVcAg may be a clinical advantage given the moves toward simplification of monitoring schedules.


  • Lamoury, François MJ
  • Soker, Angelica
  • Martinez, Danica
  • Hajarizadeh, Behzad
  • Cunningham, Evan B
  • Cunningham, Philip
  • Bruggmann, Philip
  • Foster, Graham R
  • Dalgard, Olav
  • Backmund, Markus
  • Conway, Brian
  • Robaeys, Geert
  • Swan, Tracy
  • Cloherty, Gavin
  • Marks, Pip
  • Grebely, Jason
  • Dore, Gregory J
  • Applegate, Tanya L

publication date

  • 2017

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