Review article: success and failure of nucleoside and nucleotide analogues in chronic hepatitis B


  • Conflicts of interest:
    The authors have declared no conflicts of interest.

  • This article appeared as part of a supplement sponsored by Nycomed bv.

Dr R. A. de Man, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Erasmus Medical Center, Dr. Molewaterplein 40, Room Ca 326, 3015 GD Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Background  Strong suppression of viral replication and normalization of alanine aminotransferase is feasible with nucleos(t)ide analogues. It is estimated viral replication and liver inflammation can be controlled in 90% of patients with chronic hepatitis B with the current available treatments.

Aim  To review the studies currently available on the management of chronic hepatitis B with nucleos(t)ide analogues.

Results  Although very potent, nucleos(t)ide analogues are not effective in every patient. Some factors are known to influence treatment outcome, but many host and viral factors are still unknown. Stopping rules have to be defined to assess treatment efficacy in an early stage and change the regimen. Discontinuation of nucleos(t)ide analogues is often followed by reactivation of HBV. Data on the risk factors for relapse are necessary in order to decide if treatment can be safely discontinued. Another major drawback of nucleos(t)ide analogues is the emergence of resistance. The efficacy of compounds for the treatment of mutant virus and the impact of cross-resistance is largely unknown. The use of combination therapy to prevent resistance looks promising, but has to be proven.

Conclusions  HBV has become a treatable disease, however much research is needed to optimize treatment for individual patients and treatment failures.