The aim of this study was to review all published randomized clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of a combination of prednisone and interferon in treatment of chronic hepatitis B and to subject these studies to metanalysis. Two types of metanalyses were carried out: direct metanalysis, comparing the prednisone-interferon combination with interferon on its own; and indirect metanalysis, comparing the treatment efficacy of prednisone-interferon and of interferon with control results. At the end of follow-up, four assessable end points were analyzed: HBeAg, hepatitis B virus DNA, HBsAg loss and serum ALT normalization rate. The direct metanalysis included seven trials comparing prednisone-interferon with interferon treatment. No significant differences were observed between the two types of therapy, for all the criteria given. However, in patients with low ALT levels, the prednisone-interferon combination gave significantly better results than interferon alone-HBeAg loss was 48% in the former group vs. 18.4% with interferon alone (p < 0.01). Fifteen trials compared interferon with control values; all end points were significantly improved. Seven trials compared prednisone-interferon with control results and showed all end points to be significantly improved by treatment. Indirect metanalysis showed that the differences in odds ratios for prednisone-interferon/control group and interferon/control group studies were negative for all assessable end points. In conclusion, the use of corticosteroids did not produce any significant increase in the efficacy of interferon treatment in adults with chronic hepatitis B and high initial ALT levels. However, it is possible that corticosteroids increased the HBeAg loss in the group of patients with low ALT levels. (Hepatology 1994;20:1390–1398).
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