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Summary

Background/aim  Although 48-week therapy with pegylated-interferons has been shown to be effective for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus infection, the efficacy of a shorter duration of therapy with pegylated interferons is unknown.

Method  We reviewed 53 hepatitis B e antigen positive Chinese patients treated with 48 weeks of pegylated interferon alpha-2a or 24 weeks of pegylated interferon alpha-2b. Sustained virological response was defined as hepatitis B e antigen seroconversion and hepatitis B virus DNA <105 copies/mL at week 72.

Results  Twenty-nine patients were treated with 48 weeks of pegylated-interferon-alpha-2a and 24 patients with 24 weeks of pegylated-interferon-alpha-2b. At the end-of-therapy, hepatitis B e antigen seroconversion and hepatitis B virus DNA <105 copies/mL were similar between the two groups of patients [9/29 (31.0%) vs. 2/24 (8.3%), respectively, P = 0.09]. At week 72, 10 of the 29 patients (34.5%) treated with 48 weeks of pegylated-interferon-alpha-2a compared with two of the 24 patients (8.3%) treated with 24 weeks of pegylated-interferon-alpha-2b had sustained virological response (P = 0.04). By logistic analysis, 48 weeks of pegylated-interferon-alpha-2a was independently associated with sustained virological response (P = 0.04 adjusted hazards-ratio 9.37).

Conclusion  Further studies are required to determine the optimal duration of therapy with pegylated interferons in chronic hepatitis B.