Two hundred and four patients with biopsy-proven HBsAg-positive chronic active hepatitis were treated for at least 2 years with azathioprine, prednisolone or a combination of both, or were untreated. Prevalences of HBeAg, anti-HBe, and anti-HBc were 26, 58, and 100%, respectively.
Criteria for improvement or progression of disease were based on clinical, biochemical, and morphologic parameters. Prednisolone therapy and combination therapy did not modify the course of the disease in HBeAg-positive patients; azathioprine therapy may have been deleterious for these patients. Among HBeAg-negative patients, deterioration or death occurred more frequently in those who were untreated than in those who received the combination of azathioprine and prednisolone. Prednisolone therapy was of moderate effect, whereas azathioprine did not influence the outcome.
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