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Keywords:

  • hepatitis C virus;
  • occult hepatitis B virus;
  • pegylated interferon;
  • ribavirin

Abstract

Background and Aim:  Occult hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is defined by the detectable serum HBV–DNA in HBV surface antigen-negative patients. This retrospective study aims to evaluate the therapeutic effects of combined pegylated interferon (PEG–IFN) plus ribavirin (RBV) in patients with concurrent occult HBV/hepatitis C virus (HCV) dual infection.

Methods:  In total, 126 consecutive chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients who received combined PEG–IFN and RBV therapy were included. Patients were divided into the occult HBV/HCV dual infection group or the HCV-monoinfected group according to whether or not they had the detectable serum HBV–DNA. The biochemical and virological responses to combined therapy were compared between these two groups. Serum HCV-RNA and HBV–DNA were checked before treatment, at the end of treatment as well as at 6- and 12-months' follow up in the occult HBV/HCV group.

Result:  Six patients were seropositive for HBV–DNA and were included in the occult HBV/HCV dual infection group. There were no statistical differences in the biochemical and virological responses to combined therapy between these two groups. Undetectable serum HBV–DNA was noted at the end of the treatment and the 6- and 12-months' follow up in patients with occult HBV/HCV dual infection.

Conclusion:  Occult HBV infection in CHC patients is rare. The biochemical and virological responses to combined PEG–IFN and RBV therapy might be similar in CHC patients with or without occult HBV infection. The serum HBV–DNA level was low in patients with occult HBV/HCV dual infection who responded to combined therapy.