To assess the efficacy and safety of lamivudine, an antiviral agent that strongly inhibits hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA replication, combined with plasma exchanges after short-term corticosteroids for HBV-related polyartertitis nodosa (PAN).
Ten patients (8 men, 2 women, mean ± SD age 50.4 ± 14.4 years) with previously untreated HBV-related PAN were included in a multicenter, prospective, observational trial. Oral prednisone (1 mg/kg/day) was given for 1 week, then tapered and withdrawn within 1 week. Then, lamivudine (100 mg/day or less in the case of renal insufficiency) was started for a maximum of 6 months. Plasma exchanges were performed simultaneously and scheduled as follows: 3/week for 3 weeks, 2/week for 2 weeks, then 1/week until hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) to anti-HBe antibody (HBeAb) seroconversion was obtained or until 2–3 months of clinical recovery was sustained. The primary trial endpoint was clinical recovery from HBV-PAN at 6 months. The secondary endpoint was loss of detectable serum HBeAg and HBV DNA, and HBeAg to HBeAb seroconversion at 9 months.
One death, attributed to catheter-related septicemia, was recorded. At 6 months, all 9 survivors had achieved clinical recovery and by 9 months, 6 of 9 (66%) had seroconverted.
The strategy of short-term steroids followed by lamivudine and plasma exchanges effectively led to recovery from HBV-PAN. Because of its oral administration and good safety profile, lamivudine should henceforth be considered the antiviral agent of choice to treat HBV-related PAN.