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Summary

Background  There is a renewed interest in use of combination therapies in treatment-naïve chronic hepatitis B (CHB) because of limitations of monotherapies.

Aim  To discuss the current status of combination therapies in treatment-naïve CHB.

Methods  PubMed search was done using ‘combination’, ‘sequential’ and ‘chronic hepatitis B’ as the search terms.

Results  The two most popular combination therapies include ‘combination of nucleos(t)ide analogues’ and ‘combination of interferons and nucleos(t)ide analogues’. Combination therapies using two nucleos(t)ide analogues do not lead to higher long-term efficacy. However, addition of a nucleos(t)ide analogue with a good resistance profile to a nucleos(t)ide analogue with a lower genetic barrier to resistance decreases the risk of emergent resistance to the latter. Greater sustained virological, biochemical and seroconversion rates are observed with addition of lamivudine to conventional interferon, but pegylated-interferon monotherapy is equally effective as combination with lamivudine. Again, resistance to lamivudine is lower with its combination with interferons.

Conclusions  The answer to the question whether hepatitis B can be treated better with combination or monotherapy remains largely unknown. Additional trials are warranted of combination therapies of peginterferon and potent nucleos(t)ide analogues or therapies with the combined use of nucleos(t)ide analogues or immunomodulators.