Review article: current antiviral therapy of chronic hepatitis B


Dr E. B. Keeffe, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, Stanford University Medical Center, 750 Welch Road, Suite 210, Palo Alto, CA 94304-1509, USA.


Background  The long-term goals of therapy for chronic hepatitis B are to reduce serum HBV DNA to low or undetectable levels and ultimately reduce or prevent the development of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.

Aim  To review the current treatment of chronic hepatitis B, with a focus on diagnosis and management of resistance and active management of suboptimal responses.

Methods  A systematic review of the literature, with a focus on recent guidelines, was undertaken.

Results  Among the six drugs licensed for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B in the US, the preferred agents in 2008 will include entecavir, peginterferon alfa-2a, possibly telbivudine, and tenofovir following licensure. When using an oral agent, a major focus of management is on the selection of a drug with high potency and low rate of resistance, and active on-treatment management to optimize therapy. Preventing the sequelae of antiviral drug resistance and appropriate management when resistance is initially detected are also the major focus of current management. The addition of an antiviral agent that is not cross-resistant is critical to restore suppression of viral replication.

Conclusions  Newer agents and modified treatment strategies, especially using combination therapy, hold promise to optimize the management of patients with chronic hepatitis B by achieving the high potency and the lowest rate of resistance.